BY WAHOME THUKU
Nine Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges who have been undergoing vetting for the past one month will get the verdict on their cases on April 25.
And that will be the sudden death or renewal of their careers in the Judiciary, some spanning to 30 years. The Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board concluded the vetting of the nine judges on Wednesday and itâs now reviewing and analysing the information it received to determine their fate.
The nine Philip Tunoi (now in Supreme Court), Riaga Omolo, Samuel Bosire, Emmanuel OâKubasu, , Erastus Githinji, Philip Waki, Otieno Onyango, Alnashir Visram and Joseph Nyamu are the judges who were in office by August 27, 2010 when the new constitution was promulgated, clearing the way for the vetting.
Each of the judges would get a comprehensive determination with sufficient reasons for the decisions including those who will have been found fit to continue serving.
The decision would on the same day be communicated to the public as required by the Act. The board however lamented on Friday that the public and particularly legal professionals had failed to volunteer information on the nine judges or to assist the board in the exercise.
"Inspite of widespread public perception of continuing corruption in the Judiciary, relatively few complaints of briber-taking were received," said the chairman Sharad Rao.
Addressing a media conference in Nairobi, Rao said the board would only base its decision on the constitution, the law and also the evidence received and not mere public perceptions.
The board used questioners, reports by various commissions and public complaints to vet the judges. It said it would comply with the rule of law and natural justice in determining the fitness of judges to continue serving. "The board is not carrying out a purge but a vetting process," Rao told reporters. "Vetting is founded on the rule of law. Itâs not to punish but to restore public confidence in the judiciary."
The board also defended itself against criticism that it was conducting its business in secrecy saying it was obliged by the law to have proceedings in private unless individual judges asked for public sessions. "All the nine judges said they wanted to be vetted in private and we had to respect their wishes in accordance with the law," the chairman said.
The board will then embark on vetting more than 45 High Court judges on April 26. The first will be judges J.B Ojwang and Mohammed Ibrahim who have been elevated from the High Court to the Supreme Court. They will be followed by another seven who have been promoted to the Court of Appeal.
Rao said all judges would have been vetted by August this year. That would be on time for any petitions likely to be filed in courts arising from the next general election. From September the board would start vetting the 352 magistrates who were in office on August 27, 2010. Some of them have since been appointed judges but will be vetted with magistrates.
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