By PAMELA CHEPKEMEI
Kenya: Attorney General Githu Muigai has been accused of advising the Judicial Service Commission to stop paying salaries for judges who were declared unfit to serve in the judiciary in contravention of a court order.
Lawyer Stephen Mwenesi complained that the High Court had ordered that the judges continue earning their salaries, pending the determination of cases they filed in court challenging their removal, but the order had been contravened.
“The Judicial Service Commission has varied the order of the High Court on the advice of the Attorney General,” Mwenesi said.
The lawyer told High Court judge Jonathan Havelock during the mention of a case lodged by one of the judges, Jeanne Gacheche, that JSC must obey the court order because the Court of Appeal had ruled in favour of the judges.
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The Court of Appeal on October 18 ruled that the High Court had jurisdiction to handle cases filed by judges who were removed from the judiciary. The Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board, Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and the AG have separately filed appeals at the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeal dismissed an argument by the LSK that the decision by the vetting board was final and cannot be challenged at the High Court.
unfit to serve
The decision arose from an appeal filed by the LSK and the vetting board challenging a ruling by the High Court where five judges said they had the mandate to handle the cases contesting the decisions declaring the judges unfit to serve in the judiciary.
The judges are Riaga Omolo, Samuel Bosire, Joseph Nyamu, Emmanuel O’Kubasu and Gacheche, who have pending cases at the High Court.
High Court judges Havelock, Eric Ogola, Pauline Nyamweya, Alfred Mabeya and Joseph Mutava in their ruling last year restrained the President from degazetting three Court of Appeal judges and a High Court judge.
The bench further ruled that the High Court had jurisdiction to hear cases filed against the board and review verdicts arrived at by it if they infringed the fundamental rights of the petitioners or contravened the law.
But the cases may not proceed immediately because Justice Mutava has been suspended over other issues.