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High Court reprimands Justice Mwaungulu over commentaries

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The High Court sitting in Blantyre Tuesday ruled against Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Dunstan Mwaungulu for speaking about High Court rulings on social media, arguing the conduct is against the Code of Conduct for judicial officers.

Judge Mike Tembo made the ruling when he was referring the Norman Chisale assets case to the Chief Justice for certification.

However, Mwaungulu has denied ever commenting on specific cases, saying he only comments on law issues.

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“I only comment on the law. I have never, as in ever, commented on a pending case. I comment on contemporary law which includes, judicial pronouncements, bills going to Parliament, laws passed by Parliament, law reform. Tell me of a law that prohibits a judge from reading and commenting on such. You cannot show me a case where I commented on a pending case.

“In the very judgement pronounced, the judge’s summary of facts – only three sentences— says ‘I asked a question’. And the question was based on legislation.

The evidence that I commented on a case is sparse,” Mwaungulu said on his Facebook page.

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In his judgement Tuesday, Tembo ruled that Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni was within his powers to institute assets recovery proceedings against Chisale.

After delivering the ruling, Tembo reprimanded Mwaungulu for alluding to High Court rulings on his Facebook page.

“Having disposed of the issue between the parties herein, this court wishes to put on record that it has observed that, after the Preservation Order was granted herein, one member of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, Justice Dunstan Mwaungulu, who is currently outside the jurisdiction and has been for quite a while, [was] making a comment on his Facebook page asking the question whether the claimant could proceed to obtain the order,” the rulling reads.

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