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Lawyers oppose Bill on recruitment of new CJ

By Everlyne Kwamboka | October 27th 2020

Lawyers have vowed to reject a Bill that seeks to end the vacuum created when the Chief Justice (CJ) retires.

The Judicial Service Commission (Amendment) Bill 2020, which has already gone through the first reading in the National Assembly, proposes that recruitment of a new CJ should start at least six months before the expected retirement date or expiry of the term of the incumbent.

But Law Society of Kenya President Nelson Havi (pictured) says introducing such a clause would deny the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) powers in the recruitment process.

The National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Kangema MP Muturi Kigano is set to collect public views on the recruitment of the Chief Justice and judges before tabling the Bill.

The document seeks to amend Section 30 of the JSC Act 2011 and proposes that JSC conducts interviews and forwards three names of qualified people to the president to pick one whose name is to be approved by Parliament.

Havi said the proposal is against the Constitution, adding that the matter the Bill wants to reintroduce was dealt with by the High Court in May 2016.

“Insofar as it seeks to revive what the court had dealt with, Parliament has no powers in legislating to amend the Constitution,” he said.

The High Court made its pronouncement on the issue by invalidating a law that compelled the president to choose his preferred candidate from a list of three submitted by the commission.

It is a decision that eventually saw JSC forward a single name for the positions of the CJ and his deputy to the president for him to appoint.

The Bill comes at a time CJ David Maraga is preparing to retire from office on January 12 when he attains the age of 70.

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