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MPs unite to pass Supreme Court Bill

BUSINESS
By | June 8th 2011

By Alex Ndegwa

Parliament has passed the Bill, which provides a legislative framework for the establishment of a Supreme Court.

With interviews by the Judicial Service Commission to select the judges of the highest court in the land in progress, MPs last evening passed the Supreme Court Bill without amendments.

The Chief Justice (CJ) will be the President of the Supreme Court and the Deputy Chief Justice the vice president. The Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee vetted the nominee for CJ, Dr Willy Mutunga and his deputy Nancy Barasa yesterday and its report will be submitted to Parliament today.

Yesterday, MPs termed the passing of the Bill as a "milestone" and praised Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo for shepherding formulation of the rare legislation that did not cause controversy. Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara said the speedy passage of the Bill vindicated MPs who have been accused of delaying implementation of the new Constitution.

Medical Services Minister Anyang Nyongo said the commissions and the parliamentary committee vetting people seeking jobs in the judiciary are doing a transparent job.

"Men and women in these offices should be judged not by their dress code but the content of their character and contribution to the democratic struggle and realisation of the dream of a new Kenya," he said.

Before its collapse

Transport Minister Amos Kimunya said for the first time there was no push and pull over amendments adding the speed with which the Bill had been adopted underlined a unity of purpose.

Lands Minister James Orengo recalled the defunct East African Court of Appeal, which he said had acted as the Supreme Court for the region before its collapse.

Orengo said Kenya was the first to repeal reference to the court ostensibly on questions of sovereignty to shield the real motivation that was "dictatorship coming in gradually to affect our governance."

Noting Supreme Courts determine the type of democracies that emerge, Orengo said: "I hope the bad history of the past will forever be thrown into the dustbin. Our Court of Appeal and judiciary tended to be executive."

Attorney General Amos Wako, who exists in August, said he was proud that the fruits of reforms were now being felt.

Conflicting interpretations

"I do recollect in 1979 when I was elected chairman of Law Society of Kenya (LSK) one of the issues we raised was setting up of a Supreme Court and representation of the LSK in the Judicial Service Commission," he said.

He recalled the interviews for the judges of the Supreme Court were underway and the "enactment of the Bill could not have come at a better time."

The AG said the Supreme Court judges will give leadership to ensure good jurisprudence. "We have been having conflicting judgments," he added. Northern Kenya Minister Mohammed Elmi welcomed the creation of a Supreme Court as timely, saying there have been conflicting interpretations of the new Constitution.

Githunguri MP Njoroge Baiya, a vice chairman of the troubled Justice and Legal Affairs Committee said the legislation will be helpful in setting up the legal framework for the operation of the Supreme Court.

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