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Lawyer claims cartels in Supreme Court influence Judiciary matters

By Luke Anami | June 10th 2016
Lawyer John Khaminwa during the hearing of a case on the retirement age for judges at the Supreme Court. His client, Kituo Cha Sheria, has pulled out of the case. [PHOTO: GEORGE NJUNGE/Standard]

Cartels in the Supreme Court are hell bent on influencing Judiciary matters, a lawyer has claimed.

The claims by John Khaminwa came after Kituo Cha Sheria withdrew from a case in which Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal and Supreme Court judge Phillip Tunoi challenged a Court of Appeal ruling to have them retire at the age of 70.

Dr Khaminwa claimed that Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was aware of the clique and should "protect the judges". But Dr Mutunga denied any knowledge of such cartels.

This took place yesterday during submissions made in reply to activist Okiyah Omtatah's preliminary application that the judges disqualify themselves from his case. And lawyer Osundwa Sakwa's application to be enjoined in the case was thrown out for the second time.

"My lords it is with sadness that I wish to inform you that I will no longer appear before you in this matter again," Dr Khaminwa said.

"I have received instructions that I will no longer be part of the proceedings. Kituo Sha Sheria will cease appearing as amicus curie (friends of the court)."

Influence judges

Kituo Cha Sheria did not explain why they withdrew from the matter. Khaminwa claimed the cartels may be behind the decision by his client to withdraw from the proceedings, a matter lawyer Charles Kanjama protested.

"My Lords permit me to say that there are cartels in this court. They are trying to influence judges and other members of this court to act in a certain way. Certain lawyers are trying to harass our judges and you (Mutunga) know them," said Khaminwa.

"They are trying even to pre-determine who will be the next CJ after you (Mutunga) retire. My Lords (as) the CJ you must protect your Judges against this influence."

He said they spoke at a time when no one would speak.

"We cannot have a few lawyers taking us back to the dark days. CJ you must stand by your judgement. That is what will distinguish you from others," he went on.

But Mutunga in his reply denied any knowledge of such cartels and advised that should there be any cartels as alluded, it would be advisable to say so officially.

"I am not aware of any cartels whether on the bar or the bench. If they are there I may not know," he said.

"In my office I don't operate that way. If you have any specific allegations you can bring them in writing to me, the Judiciary, or even the Judicial Service Commission, so that there is due process."

Khaminwa's claims drew opposition from lawyer Charles Kanjama (for JSC) who sought to have the matter expunged from the records on grounds that since Kituo Cha Sheria had not identified a replacement, it would not be in order to admit Khaminwa's claims as they would not have a right of reply from his client who had already sought to withdraw.

"Many claims have been made in this court about cartels. Any claims made against our clients should be expunged from this court as they were not part of the subject matter before this court," Mr Kanjama said. But lawyer Pheroze Nowrjee, representing Justice Tunoi, disagreed.

"It should not be expunged. It should go on record, go to newspapers, for younger lawyers to take note. It should not be for counsel to admonish other counsel," said Norwjee before Justice Mutunga and Justice Ibrahim intervened.

Further, the bench for the second time also dismissed an application by lawyer Osundwa Sakwa to be enjoined in the proceedings before the Supreme Court.

Osundwa had sought to be admitted on the grounds that the decision earlier made by the 5 judge bench was biased against him.

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