By Wahome Thuku
Two weeks after Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Nancy Baraza resigned, the Judiciary is yet to start looking for her replacement.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga is required to gazette the vacant position within 14 days of resignation, according to the Judicial Service Act. And since Baraza resigned on October 18, 14 days lapsed yesterday.
The appointment of a DCJ, the second most powerful judge in the Judiciary, is done by the President in accordance with recommendations of the JSC and subject to approval by the National Assembly.
The JSC is required by law to constitute a selection panel of at least five members to advertise for and shortlist candidates for the post.
The panel should then review the applications for compliance with the requirements then conduct background investigation on the candidate. It should then give the shortlisted candidates at least 14-day notice for the interview.
The panel subsequently nominates the most qualified candidates taking into account gender, regional and ethnic considerations and submits the names to the President for appointment.
Baraza resigned on October 18 and withdrew an appeal she had filed at the Supreme Court challenging her removal from office.
The DCJ was accused of assaulting security guard Rebecca Kerubo at a shopping mall in Nairobi on December 31, last year. The tribunal investigating the incident found her guilty of misbehaviour for pinching Kerubo’s nose and threatening her with a firearm. The confrontation occurred when Kerubo demanded she submits her handbag for security check before accessing the mall.
Baraza said she had decided to resign after realising she would not get a fair hearing and justice from the Supreme Court.
Going by tradition, the candidates will have to be interviewed by the Justice Committee of Parliament before the names are presented to the House for approval.
According to the Constitution, the next DCJ must also be a woman to strike the gender balance. Currently there is only one woman Supreme Court judge out of the seven provided by the Constitution. The Supreme Court will become more and more crucial in the determination of constitutional maters as the country heads to the General Election and soon thereafter.
The Judiciary remained tight lipped yesterday, on when the recruitment of a new DCJ would be begin. But a member of JSC said the interrogation of the next candidates for the DCJ job would be more thorough.