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Vetting board hits wall after sacked judges find way back into Judiciary

COUNTIES
By By Isaiah Lucheli | Feb 27th 2014 | 2 min read

By Isaiah Lucheli

When the vetting of judges and magistrates commenced two years ago, Kenyans were optimistic that judicial reforms would be achieved.

Two years down the line, the hope for reforms in the Judiciary is fast-fading as the institution faces attack from within and outside.

MPs have vowed to slash the budget of the Judiciary as retaliation for court rulings they don’t like and lobby the President not to appoint 25 new judges, claiming the appointment process was flawed. There are schemes to introduce substantive motions in the House targeting individual judges.

Similarly, the work of the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board is now under threat as the much-touted judicial reforms turn into a pipedream.

 The number of law suits that have been filed by judicial officers found unsuitable by the board have been increasing, and several judges sacked by the vetting team continue to enjoy privileges after the courts intervened.

Some of the cases pitting sacked judges against the board have been determined by the High Court, and the decisions later upheld by the Court of Appeal.

In one such a case, judges found the vetting board was a tribunal whose decision can be reviewed by the High Court. The matter is currently at the Supreme Court. Some of the judges who filed cases in court and sought review of the board’s decision have been reinstated to their positions. Two are awaiting fresh vetting while the court has stayed the decision to sack seven judges until their cases are heard and determined.

Law Society of Kenya (LSK) council member Godfrey Kitiwa noted that the public had a lot of confidence in the board and fully supported it.

Kitiwa attributed the increasing litigation by judges found unsuitable by the board to its decision to vet some of the judges afresh, which saw some of those who had been sacked regain their jobs.

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