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Supreme Court stalemate over representative in JSC

By EVELYN KWAMBOKA | January 15th 2017


From left)Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Chief Justice David Maraga during their sitting at Supreme court. (Photo: Edward Kiplimo/Standard)

Supreme Court Judges are yet to agree on a name to send to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to represent them.

It appears the judges are divided on who to replace Justice Smokin Wanjala, whose term ended last year.

To chart a way forward, the Judges have scheduled a retreat in Mombasa next week to discuss and possibly settle the crisis.

“It is true that we do not have a Supreme Court representative in JSC. This has been so since Justice Wanjala’s term ended,” said JSC commissioner Tom Ojienda.

Three camps

In the quest to have a representative in the commission, the judges sitting in the highest court in the country were said to be divided into three camps, which have since reduced to two.

The Supreme Court comprises Chief Justice David Maraga who chairs JSC, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Justices Wanjala, Mohammed Ibrahim, Njoki Ndung’u, Jackton Ojwang’ and Isaac Lenaola.

Sources within the Judiciary told The Standard on Sunday that the three camps were torn between Justices Lenaola, Njoki and Wanjala.

It is understood that majority of Judges agree that Wanjala has done his bit at JSC and would not be among those judges to be sent to the commission.

It is however understood that a section of lawyers close to former JSC commissioners have been lobbying for Wanjala, a concept majority of Supreme Court judges have refused to buy.

On the other side, another group is pushing for Lenaola who was recently appointed to the Supreme Court.

Lenaola who replaced Justice Philip Tunoi at the Supreme Court served as a commissioner to JSC between 2010 and 2013 when he was at the High Court.

“The judges are set to go for a retreat and it is here that they will vote. The CJ’s vote will be crucial in this exercise,” said the source.

Judges Njoki Ndung’u, Muhammed Ibrahim and Jackton Ojwang still has a pending matter with JSC over allegations of misconduct.

Currently, JSC membership is composed of chair CJ Maraga, Commissioners Aggrey Muchelule (High Court judge), Ojienda, Attorney General Githu Muigai, Chief Magistrate Emily Ominde, Prof Margaret Kobia, Commissioners Mwara Deche, Kipng’etich Bett, Winfred Guchu and Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi.

JSC held its first sitting under the new CJ’s whelm on January 13, where they discussed a number of issues.

On the General Election, the commission said the Judiciary was fully prepared to play its part in the resolution of any disputes and petitions that may arise from the exercise.

Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale’s verbal attack on High Court Judge George Odunga was also discussed by the commissioners during the meeting.

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