Why Appellate Court suspended Order barring naming of CJ, Supreme interviews

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021 13:18 |
JSC Commissioner during at the Supreme Court of Kenya during the interviewing exercise for the post of Chief Justice.

The Court of Appeal has suspended order by High Court judges stopping the Judicial Service Commission from making further considerations for the position of the Chief Justice and also conducting interviews for Supreme Court judge post.

A three-judge bench led by Justice Rosyln Nabuye, Patrick Kiage and Justice Ole Kantai quashed the order paving way for JSC to name the new CJ.

The Appellate Court ruling also allows for the commencement of the recruitment exercise of the next Supreme Court Judge.

"Having considered the public interest. Justice will be well be served by the grant of the application," ruled the court.

High Court Judges were faulted for not hearing jurisdiction issues raised by the respondents before issuing the conservatory order that threw the recruitment exercise into uncertainty.

JSC appealed the order saying it was erroneously issued and could plunge the country into crisis given that constitutional timelines risk expiring.

“The Constitution is clear that a vacancy in the CJ’s position must be filled within six months. There are only two more months remaining since the vacancy occurred and if the orders are not lifted, the country is going to be plunged into a constitutional crisis,” JSC lawyer Eric Gumbo said.

The petition, that saw the recruitment exercise suspended, was filed by activists Philip Muchiri, Damaris Ndirangu and Memba Ocharo.

The three cited breach of the constitutional process in the recruitment of the CJ and sought orders staying the process until the matter is determined.

They contested the composition of the JSC arguing that Commissioner Olive Mugenda did not deserve to chair the JSC panel.

According to the three, acting DCJ Philomena Mwilu is the substantive chair of the commission according to the law.

They also sought to have the just concluded interviews declared null and void following the breach of legal procedures.

The name of the successful CJ candidate will be forwarded to President Uhuru Kenyatta who will forward to National Assembly for vetting.

Interviews for 10 candidates who were shortlisted for the post ended on Friday last week.

Among those who impressed for the CJ Post Justice Said Chitembwe, Prof. Patricia Mbote, Justice Martha Koome, Justice Marete Njagi, Lawyer Philip Murgor, Justice Nduma Nderi, Fred Ngatia, Justice William Ouko, Prof. Dr Wekesa Moni and Alice Yano

The law requires the seat of the CJ to filled within six months after being left vacant.

Chief Justice emeritus David Kenani Maraga retired on January 12th this year. Deputy CJ Philomena Mwilu took over the office in an acting capacity.

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