MPs renew attack on Judiciary ‘over constant meddling’

A past parliamentary session. The legislators have asked the Judiciary to stop interfering with their mandate, rekindling the hostility between them. [File, Standard]

Legislators renewed their attack on the Judiciary over what MPs felt were efforts by the arm of government tasked to interpret the law to meddle with their constitutional duties.

MPs took offence with various orders made by the courts, especially at the High Court, which have gone into stopping Parliament and its committees from handling certain matters pending before them.

The legislators appeared angered by a ruling by the High Court that anyone can challenge a process being undertaken by the House or its committees, at whatever stage, a ruling they said went into allowing the work of legislators, especially in committees to be stopped by a court order.

The legislators complained that Judiciary was injuncting the Legislature, which is against their constitutional powers, even as they requested Speaker Justin Muturi to protect their turf against the threats being posed by the orders coming from some “rogue” judges.

Leading the protest was Suna East MP Junet Mohammed who complained that judges were misusing their powers by meddling in the affairs of the House, by stopping processes that are under deliberations by the House of their committees.

“We cannot watch as the Judiciary becomes rogue. This arm of Government must be told in no uncertain terms that they are now meddling in the affairs of the Legislature, abrogating themselves powers that they do not have,” complained Mohammed, also the National Assembly Minority Whip.

He complained that there was a dangerous trend where where individual are summoned by committees of the House in the course of their work, only for them to rush to court to obtain orders stopping the legislative arm against undertaking the process.

Muturi however assured the MPs that the house will dismiss all orders that are made in an attempt to injunct them in their legislative duties. He said that judicial officers should only restrict themselves to handling the end product of what comes from Parliament, and not stopping the process.

“This house can direct me that we will not allow any orders that injunct their duties. We will look with disfavour attempts to derail the functions of the Legislature. Judiciary must wait for the final product,” said Muturi.

The Speaker told the legislators that they may need to consider reviewing allocating the duty of constitutional interpretation to the High Court where only one judge sits and makes decision with sweeping implications.

“These unfolding calls to question whether the power to interpret the constitution should be vested on the High Court or at the highest court (Supreme Court). At the Supreme court I don’t think you would find such issues,” said Muturi.

Minority Leader John Mbadi urged the Speaker to consider taking up the matter and expressing the MPs protest at a “higher level engagement” which includes the leaders of the three arms of Government.

“We know the Chief Justice has no direct control of the individual judges, but he can communicate to them when they hold their meetings, because some of these orders are ridiculous,” said Mbadi.

He added: “Some of these orders give credence to claims that the Judiciary has been infiltrated by extreme activism. They must however not be allowed to interfere or weaken the Houses of Parliament”.