The Judiciary has a constitutional duty to uphold the Constitution, to interpret the law in terms of the Constitution and to declare invalid any law or conduct inconsistent with the Constitution or the law. As such and notwithstanding the doctrine of separation of powers, the Judiciary is the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution and the law. No person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of the Courts and all organs of state, through legislative and other measures, must assist and protect the Courts to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity, accessibility and effectiveness of the Courts. Moreover, an order or decision issued by a Court binds all persons to whom and organs of state to which it applies.

The meeting evidently provided an opportunity for the Chief Justice to reiterate the notion of judicial authority and the Rule of Law enshrined in the Constitution. However, the fact that it is necessary for the Chief Justice to convey this message to the President and the Executive is understandably a cause for concern.

By Adv Johan Kruger, Director: Centre for Constitutional Rights

Photo credit: GovernmentZA / Foter / CC BY-ND