The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

CJ warns of anarchy over Ruto's attacks on Judiciary

 Judicial Service Commission led by Chief Justice Martha Koome brief the media in Nairobi on Monday, January 15, 2023. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has warned that the country risks sliding into anarchy if President William Ruto stays the course of slighting the courts in the manner he has done in the last few days.

Chief Justice Martha Koome said it is regrettable that the leadership of the Executive and Legislature, in their recent public declarations, have threatened not to obey court orders.

The CJ said the threats and declarations are extremely serious and a monumental assault on the Constitution and the rule of law.

“The declarations that they will no longer obey court orders are untenable and amount to contempt of court,” said the CJ.

President Ruto has threatened to disregard court orders, claiming a conspiracy involving specific judges, opposition figures and ‘cartels’ with the intent of impeding his administration’s programmes.

In a statement to the press in Nairobi yesterday, the CJ said if allowed to continue unabated, such public declarations will place the country on the precipice of a constitutional crisis that can lead to civil strife. “The Judiciary and JSC cannot countenance this and will not be part of it,” said the CJ.

Corrupt elements

Addressing the press while accompanied by members of JSC, Justice Koome, however, acknowledged that there were some corrupt elements within the Judiciary, citing 85 disciplinary cases that were considered in the last two financial years.

The CJ stated that two judicial officers were dismissed from service in the last two financial years while five, owing to the evidence provided and thorough consideration by the Commission, were absolved and reinstated.

“Two cases against judicial officers are pending determination by the commission. The commission also dismissed 71 judicial staff from the service,” said CJ Koome.

The disciplinary cases involved soliciting for bribes or corruption, financial malpractice, absconding duty, forgery of academic certificates, dereliction of duty or negligence in handling court exhibits/disappearance of court files, and substance abuse or intoxication. 

Noting that dealing with such cases is part of the day-to-day duties of JSC, Justice Koome stated that the commission is yet to receive any corruption complaints from President Ruto despite the head of state branding the Judiciary as a club of corrupt judges.

“It is the commission’s firm position that corruption or misconduct in the Judiciary is addressed with the utmost priority. We maintain that upholding integrity in the discharge of judicial duties is non-negotiable and in fact, goes to the heart of the fundamental right of access to justice,” she said.

Koome said that the commission has sought an audience with President Ruto so that he can explain the intricacies of the corruption allegation he has made against judicial officers.

“The president has not filed any complaints that we are aware of,” stated the CJ.

“If there are cases involving judicial officers, then that’s why the JSC was established to deal with those disciplinary matters. We will be asking the president to submit that report so that we can deal with those matters,” said the CJ.

However, she did not fail to criticise the presidents’ actions which she said amounted to sub judice.     

“When judges are attacked publicly when hearing live matters, they feel intimidated, harassed and feel like they are being ordered to rule a certain way. We urge the politicians to stop discussing live matters in public to allow the judges to engage with the matters objectively… if someone is dissatisfied, then they should follow the appeal mechanism,” said Koome.

On Friday, dozens of lawyers in Nairobi staged a protest, marching from the Supreme Court to the president’s office.

“The president of this country is not above the law. Therefore, we do not expect him to speak as if obeying court orders is a favour that he is doing for the country. It is a constitutional requirement,” said LSK President Eric Theuri a day before lawyers in Nairobi protested.

The CJ defended JSC, pointing to systems the commission has in place to report and handle corruption incidences among judicial officers.

She revealed that in 2023, the commission received 72 petitions and complaints against judges. After the evaluation process, 13 cases were dismissed, and six judges were asked to respond. Notably, three judges left the Judiciary in 2023, one through early retirement, and two after undergoing tribunal processes.

Petitions and complaints

Despite the stain, Koome argues that JSC has implemented several measures aimed at enhancing transparency within the Judiciary, including the establishment of a Directorate of Complaints Management and Investigations geared to swiftly addressing petitions and complaints against judges and judicial officers.

Additionally, the Judiciary Complaint Management System provides an internal platform, which JSC says provides an efficient registration, processing, and handling of complaints, fostering timely resolution and feedback.

“The Judiciary also invited the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to assess all its systems, registries and administrative procedures to flag out areas susceptible to abuse for corrupt purposes,” said the CJ.

The JSC pledged to continue fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities, providing regular updates, and ensuring the public remains informed about the outcomes of cases presented before it.

Related Topics


Trending Now


Popular this week