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CJ Mutunga sets up team to hear case on judges' retirement age

By Isaiah Lucheli | March 12th 2015

NAIROBI: Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has constituted a five-judge bench to hear a petition filed by a Supreme Court judge challenging the lowering of the retirement age for judges.

The five judges will hear and determine an application filed by Supreme Court Judge Philip Tunoi which has been consolidated with a similar case filed by High Court's Justice David Onyancha and Justice Leonard Njagi.

The judges moved to court challenging the requirement that they retire at 70 years instead of an earlier communication that had set the age at 74.

Tunoi and Onyancha, who are both 70, went to court seeking to stop the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) from retiring them.

In their application, the judges argued they had been appointed under the old constitution, which had set their retirement age at 74.

JSC had wanted to retire Tunoi on June 3, last year while Onyancha was set to be retired on December 1 and had already received a retirement letter from the Judiciary.

The five-judge bench will be headed by Principal Judge Richard Mwongo and is expected to hear the matter no later than March 26.

"Other judges on the bench are Luka Kimaru, Christine Meoli, Hedwig Ongúdi and Charles Kariuki. The CJ requested that judgment on the petition be delivered on or before April 30," a statement from the CJ's office read in part.

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The judges got orders restraining JSC from retiring them until the suit is heard and determined. They argued in court there were two circulars one dated May 24, 2011 from the JSC informing all judges that their retirement age was 74 years.

The judges, through their Lawyer Fred Ngatia, had informed the court that another circular dated March 27, 2014 informed judges that a meeting of the JSC determined the retirement age is 70 years.

The judges told Justice George Odunga that when the second circular was released, the previous circular was not annulled.

Ngatia added it was due to such conflicting decisions that it was necessary for the court to decide.

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