By Omar Bah
The Gambia Government yesterday tabled the judicial officers’ remuneration and other entitlements bill which seeks to provide far reaching changes and condition service for judicial officers.
The bill provides that the occupant of the office of Chief Justice who retires after serving for a period of five years shall be paid a pension equal to his last salary and that any other judge of a superior court shall enjoy a pension of full salary upon retirement after serving for at least ten years.
The bill also provided that any other judge of a superior court who at retirement has served for less than ten years, but more than five years, shall be entitled to a pension of three quarters of his last salary.
The bill provided that where a judge who upon retirement has not satisfied any of the above conditions, he or she may be paid a gratuity to be determined by the Judicial Service Commission, and also, a retired judge shall be paid such other benefits and allowances as may be prescribed for by the Judicial Service Commission after consultation with the minister of finance and judge’s pension shall be subject to increase as the salary of a serving judge of the Superior Court at the equivalent level.
According to the bill, where a Judge dies whilst holding office, a lump sum equal to one-half of his or her yearly salary at the time of his or her death shall be paid to his or her surviving spouse
The bill provides that the chief justice and judges, while in office, shall be provided with a fully furnished accommodation, including utilities, without charge or an allowance thereof.
In addition, the chief justice or judges shall be paid sums in respect of incidental expenses including telephone and robing allowance and a judicial officer who is posted outside Banjul, Kanifing and the Kombos shall be paid a special allowance in respect of incidental expenses.
The bill provides that a judicial officer who, while performing his or her functions attends at any place other than the Banjul, Kanifing or the West Coast Region, shall be paid an allowance in respect of such travel expenses at a rate as may from time to time be determined by the Commission in the regulation.
The bill stated that a judicial officer shall be paid a moving allowance when – he or she relocates for a new job posting and his or her existing office is transferred to another location requiring him or her to change residence.
“A judicial officer who attends a meeting, conference or seminar abroad relating to the administration of justice shall be paid per diem allowance, at the following rates –in the case of the Chief Justice, at the same rate and with the benefits as is for the time being prescribed for the Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia. In the case of a judge of the Supreme Court, at the rate and with the same benefit as is for the time being prescribed for a Minister of State; in the case of any other judge, at the rate and with the same benefit as is for the time being prescribed for a Permanent Secretary; and in the case of a magistrate or a cadi, at the general rate and with the same benefit as is for the time being prescribed for civil servants,” the bill envisaged.
Health and accidental death insurance
The bill provides that a judicial officer shall be provided with insurance cover in line with the national health insurance scheme for medical treatment for himself or herself only, and where specialist treatment is needed which is not available in The Gambia as may be confirmed by a medical board report, a judicial officer may in like manner as other members of the public service be considered for treatment abroad.
It added that a judge, chairman of the court of appeal panel; the judicial secretary and deputy judicial secretary, the master, the sheriff and chief magistrate, shall be provided with–a chauffeur-driven vehicle, and such fuel provisions as shall be sufficient for the efficient discharge of his or her duties; and judicial officers subject to the government vehicle policy, may purchase the vehicle after a period of five years, at the depreciated rate.
“Subject to the public service loan scheme, a magistrate or cadi is entitled to car and house loan and a judge shall be provided such security as shall be adequate for the protection of his or her person and residence. A judge who retires between the ages of seventy to seventy-five shall continue to be provided such security for the rest of his or her life,” the bill envisaged.
According to the bill, a judicial officer who retires – at or after the age of sixty-five years, and after having served at least five years in aggregate in a judicial office, shall be paid a non-taxable lump sum gratuity in a sum equal to six months of his or her basic salary last received whilst in office.