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Judicial service agency says new CJ will be in office by October

By Luke Anami | June 21st 2016

The Judicial Service Commission yesterday said the next Chief Justice will be in office on or before October this year.

In separate interviews with The Standard, the vice-chairperson of the JSC, Prof Margaret Kobia, and the JSC Secretary Anne Amadi, said the commission's decision to advertise for the vacancies of the Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice and for a Supreme Court judge had set in motion a recruitment process that will take at least four months.

"JSC anticipates that the recruitment process will take about four months given the statutory timelines guiding the process and expects the new Chief Justice to be in office in October, 2016," said Ms Amadi, also the chief registrar of the Judiciary.

The four-month window will see all the applicants for the three vacancies vetted by Government authorities for financial probity, and for other background check. Then it will also allow for interviews, parliamentary vetting and finally only three names will be submitted to the President: One for the designated Chief Justice; the other for the designated Deputy Chief Justice and then the name for the Supreme Court judge.

President Uhuru Kenyatta will not have three names to pick one person for each position, especially, after the High Court ruled that on judicial appointments, the choice of the JSC had to be respected.

All those who seek these top judiciary jobs have to get clearance from the Kenya Revenue Authority, Higher Education Loans Board, Law Society of Kenya, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Advocates Complaints Commission, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and a recognised Credit Reference Bureau.

Among the conditions for the applicants is that they must declare any involvement in political activity, declare any criminal record they may have and declare their income and liabilities.

The top judicial vacancies followed Dr Willy Mutunga's retirement, a day after the Supreme Court upheld the decision by the Court of Appeal to have former DCJ Kalpana Rawal and Supreme Court judge Justice Philip Tunoi retire at 70.

Prof Margaret Kobia, Vice Chairperson of the JSC, said sitting judges, lawyers, law scholars and even people in the academia and in the corporate field were free to apply.

"Once we have short-listed the candidates for the positions, Kenyans will be welcomed to scrutinise their suitability before we embark on the interviewing exercise," she said.

The applications for the post of CJ will close on July 7 while those for Deputy CJ and judge of Supreme Court will close on July 6.

"Upon receiving applications from interested candidates, the JSC shall publish in the local dailies the names of applicants, including the shortlisted candidates," said Amadi.

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