On 22 July 2011, SECTION27 and the LRC made a written submission on the Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Bill (“the 17th CAB”) to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development.

The document restates much of an earlier submission the two organisations made to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on the draft Constitution Nineteenth Amendment Bill, 2010.  That submission, available here, is dated 15 July 2010.

The new submission and the 17th CAB are available here and here respectively.  Public hearings on the 17th CAB will take place in Parliament on 2 and 3 August 2011.  On these two days, hearings will also be held in respect of the Superior Courts Bill [B 6—2011] (“the SCB”).

The joint submission is limited to issues of principle arising from the 17th CAB rather than the detailed provisions of the SCB.  This is not because the two organisations have nothing to say on the SCB, but because they wish to address the key issues of principle that arise from the 17th CAB which – if accepted – may have implications for the SCB.

In their view, Parliament should process the two bills separately: first the 17th CAB; thereafter, once the nature and extent of the constitutional amendment have been determined, the SCB.

It should be noted at the outset that SECTION27 and the LRC support the stated goal of the proposed constitutional amendments, which is to facilitate the integration of the judiciary.  The creation of a single apex court, in their view, is an important step to take in attaining a single judiciary.