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Dingake releases In Pursuit of Justice

CORRESPONDENT
This book is all about the workings of a judicial mind. It discusses the intersection of philosophy, politics and law and how a judge's ideological outlook may inform the decision of the court.

A judge in a democracy is oath bound to be impartial and independent and to approach all issues in an objective manner. Absence of bias or the appearance of bias, lies at the heart of a credible adjudicatory system. Judgeship requires that judges take decisions on the basis of considerations that are not necessarily aligned to their personal views or preferences.

As is often said a judge must respect the chains that bind him as a judge. But it should be accepted that every judge processes the controversies serving before him/her through his/her own mind and not the mind of any other person. The judge is a product of his/her own circumstances, a product of his/her own time, shaped by a given society and a set of beliefs. He/She may grow up with certain prejudices or stereotypes that do not magically disappear soon after taking an oath of the office. For this reason judges must always be aware of their subconscious biases.

The pursuit of objectivity does not magically rid a judge of his/her past, experiences, beliefs or

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values. As Justice Aharon Barak, of the Supreme Court of Israel once observed, “A person who is appointed as a judge is neither required nor able to change his skin”.

The central thesis of this book is that, in hard constitutional and even commercial cases, to mention just a few examples, judges often give expression to values that in their minds seem proper and legitimate. To this extent, complete objectivity in some cases may be unattainable. In commercial disputes some judgments may reveal a judge’s inclination to free market or its logic, whilst some judgments may reveal a bent towards a stronger role for the state in any economy. In difficult cases in which they may be more than one correct answer, the answer that the judge finally chooses may be a product of a judges personal life experiences and such a decision may be influenced by his concept of the judicial role and attitude towards other organs of the state. 

SIR GIBUMA GIBBS SALIKA*

*Sir Gibuma Gibbs Salika is Chief Justice of Papua New Guinea



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