Executive, Judiciary tiff hurts service delivery

Monday, June 8th, 2020 00:00 |
Chief Justice and the president of the Supreme Court David Maraga. Photo/PD/FILE

The Executive Order No.1 of 2020 signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta last week re-ignited the perennial rivalry between the Executive and the Judiciary, with Chief Justice David Maraga accusing State House of interfering with his turf.

Maraga, who is the president of the Supreme Court, was offended by what he interpreted as an attempt by the Executive to assign the Judiciary functions. 

According to State House, the order authorises the President to direct and coordinate the functions of ministries and government departments.

But according the CJ,  the order cannot restructure or assign functions to other arms of government and independent commissions.

He argued that the Judiciary was neither a ministry nor a government department to be subjected to an Executive Order.

Further, the CJ insisted the Judiciary and Judicial Service Commission are independent organs which are neither assigned functions nor derive authority from the Executive.

But Attorney General Paul Kihara denied any attempt by the Executive to interfere with the independence of the Judiciary.

He said the President has a constitutional duty to define ministries and government departments responsibilities and mechanisms for fostering policy coordination.

The rivalry between the two arms of government is not new. There was a similar war last year when the CJ furiously protested huge Judiciary budget cuts by the National Treasury, saying the move would cripple dispensation of justice. 

It would be noted that there is stalemate between State House and Judiciary over refusal by the President to approve the appointment of 41 judges to the courts of Appeal, Environment and Labour as recommended by the JSC. 

The CJ has also accused the Executive of frustrating his efforts to ensure an independent Judiciary through establishing relevant courts across the country with adequate and competent manpower. 

The Constitution is clear on the roles of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary which are independent but work together in mutual cooperation and respect.

Infringement into one arms’ space would not only be unconstitutional but a trigger for needless turf war which will hamper delivery of core mandates.

We urge the arms to respect each others independence and embrace their interdependence in solving sticky matters amicably. 

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