JSC hauled to court over judges' posts

The Helen Suzman Foundation wants clarity on how judges are appointed.

The Helen Suzman Foundation has served court papers on Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, in his position as JSC chair.

JOHANNESBURG - The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) launched legal action against the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) over the process of nominating judges.

Officials said the foundation wants to get clarity on the procedure and decision-making process.

The foundation served papers on Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Thursday in his capacity as JSC chairperson.

In a statement released on Friday, it said it took this step in light of recent comments made by Mogoeng and the resignation of Izak Smuts from the JSC following a disagreement over transformation.

The foundation added, "The purpose of our action, thus, is to ensure that the JSC's decision-making process is consistent with the provisions of the Constitution.

"Although the HSF is challenging the lawfulness of a particular set of facts, it is hoped that clarity will be obtained in respect of the JSC's methodology in nominating and selecting candidates for judicial office."

The organisation's Kameel Premhid said there was a growing perception that talented candidates for judicial appointment and advancement were being overlooked.

"The purpose of our action is to subject the JSC's decision-making process to very close scrutiny with the hope that it will be constitutionally compliant in the future.

"Whilst the Helen Suzman Foundation completely associates itself with the need for transformation of the judiciary, we cannot allow transformation to be a fig leaf to keep talented candidates out of judicial office."

The JSC has been embroiled in controversy after senior advocate Jeremy Gauntlett's application was rejected on numerous occasions.

The committee noted concerns about Gauntlett's "humility and judicial temperament".