PSC vows to petition CJ on House dissolution advisory

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
PSC members led by chairman Justin Muturi addressing the media yesterday over Chief Justice David Maraga’s advisory to dissolve parliament over failure to enact the two thirds gender rule. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) has resolved to go to court to challenge the move by Chief Justice David Maraga advising the President to dissolve parliament for failing to enact the Two-Third gender rule.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi who is the chairman said the commission resolved to engage counsel to immediately proceed to the High court to challenge the CJ’s decision.

Asked whether the commission expected a fair hearing by the same court that it was challenging, Muturi said the legislature was not fighting the judiciary but wants a reasonable determination of the matter before it.

“The Commission regrets that the Chief Justice appears to be willing, ever eager, to plunge the country into a constitutional crisis without exercising the wisdom and circumspection that is expected of the high office that he holds,” Muturi said in a statement issued in parliament yesterday.

By dissolving parliament, the commission said Maraga was also putting in question his own appointment which was done by the 11th Parliament since his advisory has rendered any legislation done by the members a nullity.

Taking drastic action

Muturi said Maraga should have put into consideration before taking the drastic action, among other things, the state of the economy, the coronavirus pandemic and the cost of holding elections for all the positions involved.

Muturi said the commission has taken the firm position that the action by the CJ to advise President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve parliament is ill advised, premature and unconstitutional and is a recipe for plunging the country into a constitutional crisis of monumental proportions.

“The Commission notes with disappointment that the CJ has ignored fundamental issues that go to the root of the fabric and structure of the Constitution in advising the President to dissolve Parliament,” read the statement.

In particular, the commission notes, the CJ glossed over the fact that there are two High Court petitions set for hearing on October 7 to determine, among other issues, whether the order made by Justice Mativo J, on March 29, 2017, during the tenure of the 11th Parliament is applicable to the 12th Parliament which was elected in August 2017. “It is therefore premature for the CJ to take the action he took while the High Court is yet to determine the matter,” noted the Commission.

To be resolved lawfully

Muturi said that the PSC is convinced that the present matter shall be resolved lawfully and calls for calm and sobriety in order to avert the kind of national anxiety and despondency that the action of the CJ could elicit. He said the petition to dissolve parliament is an unwarranted attack on the August House.

“We must not lose sight of the real challenges in implementing this matter and turn Parliament into a punching bag on account of gender parity.

The clamour for dissolution of the current Parliament on account of failure to enact the two-third gender legislation is at the very least, unrealistic,” he said in a statement.

The Speaker proposed that the issue of two-thirds gender rule should be subjected to a referendum over the cost of implementing it.

“Given the current efforts and initiatives to amend the Constitution that are currently underway such as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), the issue on two-thirds gender rule can be subjected to a referendum in the event the same happens,” he said.

“Owing to the cost implications of implementing the two-thirds gender rule through other mechanisms such as nomination and topping up, it is prudent if the matter were to be subjected to the people once more for a reevaluation or to propose ways of achieving two-thirds gender rule.”

Muturi further argued that leaving the issue of gender parity to Parliament would not be the “direct expression of the will of the people” and would also mean a higher number of legislators.

“At present, if we were to nominate women legislators to comply with the two-thirds gender principle in Parliament, we would have to nominate up to 100 women legislators,” Muturi said.

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