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2019: Year of mixed fortunes for the Judiciary

By Everlyne Kwamboka | December 29th 2019
Chief Justice David Maraga. [File, Standard]

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) set a record this year by allowing a petition alleging gross violations of the Constitution against the Chief Justice to proceed to full hearing.

In exercise of its mandate to promote the independence and accountability of the Judiciary, Chief Justice David Maraga was directed by the commission to file his response to the petition within 14 days, making him first CJ to be grilled.

The petitioner, Yusuf Ibrahim Dimbili, withdrew the petition last week. He had raised issues such as tribalism, lifting a quote from a pending judgment and the CJ attending political rallies in his petition.

But even as the CJ prepared to defend himself, his deputy Philomena Mwilu and some Supreme Court judges were also out to clean their names over various petitions filed against them.

In Mwilu’s petition, the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji is seeking her removal over claims of misconduct.

In his application against the Deputy Chief Justice, the DPP claims that she is unfit to hold public office over allegations of irregular sale and acquisition of property, obtaining execution of a security through false pretense, failure to pay taxes, forgery and uttering a false document.

But Mwilu has raised a storm over Attorney General Kihara Kariuki’s conduct, saying he has been personally biased against her and cannot be fair in his decision as a member of the JSC.

Mwilu also wants Law Society of Kenya (LSK) representative at the JSC Macharia Njeru out of the committee on grounds that the two have conflicted interest and cannot be impartial in determining the complaints filed against her.

In another petition, Garad Saney Mohamed is challenging the conduct of some Supreme Court judges. He took over as the lead petitioner in the petition against the four judges after the initial petitioner, Mohamed Sheikh, withdrew the allegations against the judicial officers.

The petition is against Justices Mohammed Ibrahim, Jackton Ojwang, Smokin Wanjala and Njoki Ndung’u for alleged gross misconduct, misbehaviour and incompetence, breach of the Constitution and Oath of Office.

“The notice to withdraw and your referenced letter were tabled before the JSC on March 2, 2019 and upon deliberation, the commission resolved that it would proceed to consider the petition on the basis of your intent and that of the resident of Wajir County to prosecute the same, the withdrawal by Mr Sheikh notwithstanding,” Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi stated in her letter dated May 7.

The commission’s secretary stated that the petition had been admitted to oral hearing and the date/time would be communicated later, adding that copies of responses filed by the four judges at the commission were forwarded to him for information and record.

It is also this year President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed a tribunal to investigate the conduct of Justice Ojwang over allegations of misconduct, conflict of interest and breach of the judicial code of conduct.

The tribunal led by Justice Alnashir Visram cleared him of all the four charges that had led to his suspension.

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