Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu has told the High Court that petitions seeking to remove her from the office do not hinder her from acting as chief justice.
Justice Mwilu was replying to a case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah seeking to quash a letter by outgoing Chief Justice David Maraga that allows her to head the Judiciary in an acting capacity. Justice Maraga is expected to retire on January 12.
She argues that she has continued to discharge her duties as a deputy CJ and Supreme Court judge even with the cases filed and being heard by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
“Complaints against judges are received by the respondent all the time, and the mere existence of any such complaints does not bar judges from discharging their constitutional, judicial or administrative functions. My case cannot be any different.
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"A judge’s personal integrity does not diminish or end, nor does the judge cease being suitable to continue serving on account of pending complaints for removal," said Justice Mwilu.
Mr Omtatah has filed an urgent suit seeking to stop the judge from acting as CJ on grounds that she was not fit to hold the position.
“There are four cases questioning the DCJ’s integrity pending before the JSC, and others before courts. She cannot assume the roles of a CJ with such issues on her head without bringing the Judiciary into disrepute,” he said, adding that only President Uhuru Kenyatta should appoint an acting CJ upon recommendation by the JSC.
But Justice Mwilu says the law requires that a DCJ will take up the CJ’s office in an acting capacity for a period not exceeding six months. [Kamau Muthoni]