An Attorney General under the erstwhile Kufuor government has challenged the authority of the Chief Justice and by extension the Judicial Council to investigate alleged financial misconduct against Lauretta Lamptey, head of the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
Ayikoi Otoo argued that merely because the appointment of the CHRAJ boss is hinged on the same terms and conditions of service as a Justice of the Court of Appeal does not make Lauretta Lamptey a member of the Judicial Service to be investigated by the Judicial Council.
His comments are in reaction to President John Mahama's decision to have the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Woode, conduct investigations into allegations Mrs Lamptey spent an amount of $148,000 on her 33-month rent and an additional $180,000 on renovating her official residence.
The Nsawam- Adoagyiri Member of Parliament, Frank Annor Dompreh and the Progressive Nationalist Forum (PNF), have submitted separate petitions to the President asking for the removal of the Commissioner.
Acting on the petition, the President asked the Chief Justice to thoroughly investigate the claims made against CHRAJ boss.
But Ayikoi Otoo is convinced the President may have erred.
Speaking to Joy News' Francis Abban, he explained that Lauretta Lamptey is not a worker of the Judicial Service thus making it problematic to be investigated by the Judicial Committee.
"The Chief Justice having gone to receive the petition would have to refer them to the disciplinary committee of the Judicial Council. Madam Laureta Lamptey of CHRAJ has the status of a court of Appeal Judge but she is not, strictly speaking, sitting as a court of appeal judge within the judiciary neither is she a judicial officer," he argued.
"It is problematic. If she is not a worker of judicial service then where is the jurisdiction to try her by the judicial committee of the judicial council?" he queried.
When asked if the Judicial Council has no power to investigate the CHRAJ boss Ayikoi Otoo said: "Yes looking at their remit it doesn't appear that they can deal with or exercise jurisdiction over persons who are not judicial service workers."
To support his argument, the lawyer cited a case in the Supreme Court involving an Auditor General and whether or not an Auditor General can retire at the age of 70, as is the case with Appeal Court judged.
He said the Supreme Court ruled that the Auditor General cannot be said to be part of the judicial service merely because his conditions of service is aligned to that of the Appeal Court judge.
At best, he added, the CHRAJ boss is a public official and can be investigated under the public service regulations.