SECTIONS

Judges meet over souring Judiciary, Executive ties

 Supreme Court judges after a past sitting. [[PHOTO: FILE / STANDARD]

By WAHOME THUKU and MARTIN MUTUA

Nairobi, Kenya: High Court and Court of Appeal judges met in Nairobi to discuss the souring relationship between the Judiciary and other arms of Government.

The judges, including those in charge of various stations across the country and heads of various High Court divisions, met yesterday to discuss the criteria for issuing court orders, particularly injunctions, which have been a source of criticism for the Judiciary.

They also discussed the principles of the relationships between the Judiciary, Legislature and the Executive and the separation of powers of the three institutions.

Of particular focus during the workshop was the injunctions issued in the early stages of a case, which are the most sought after by litigants.

The workshop, opened by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, was organised by the Judiciary Training Institute. It brought together 36 judges, including presiding judges of the Courts of Appeal.

The Judiciary has in the recent past been at logger heads with the other arms of the Government, particularly the National Assembly, accused of issuing orders without regard to separation of powers.

Members of Parliament have ignored court orders, saying these were intended to gag them from performing their constitutional responsibilities.

Other bodies, including trade unions, have also been accused of failing to respect court orders. A few days ago, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi issued a statement saying they could not accept some court orders.

Dr Mutunga called a Press conference and maintained that the Judiciary would continue doing its work independently and without fear.

But on Friday, judges met to discuss what the Judiciary referred to as “shared principles in the issuance of interlocutory injunctions and conservatory orders in civil and constitutional matters, respectively”.

“The seminar was aimed at striking a balance between the speedy delivery of justice and establishing predictability in jurisprudence emerging from different courts,” the Judiciary explained.

Dr Mutunga asked the judges to

protect the independence of the Judiciary by being rigorous in their interpretation of the Constitution and application of the law.

He also told them to be accountable for the decisions they make.

“Decisions that fly in the face of the applicable law will be interrogated and debated not just by colleagues and litigants, but also by the wider society that we serve,” the CJ said.

Justice Joel Ngugi, who heads the JTI, said the institute has been holding the seminars to provide a safe place for judges to reflect on judicial practice and debate about the challenges they face as well as seek common solutions to emerging issues of law.

Meanwhile, the delayed appointments of 25 High Court judges by President Uhuru Kenyatta continues to cause friction and anxiety between the Judiciary and the Executive

And Law Society of Kenya Chairman Eric Mutua warns that the delay was causing unnecessary tension between the two arms of Government and impacting negatively on the delivery of justice.

“I am urging the President to carry out his constitutional mandate and swear in the judges because the matter is not auguring well for his Government,” he added.