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High Court temporarily stops JSC from selecting Chief Justice

By Micah Nyandoro | April 21st 2021
Acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu. [File, Standard]

The High Court on Wednesday, April 21 temporarily stopped the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) from selecting a successful candidate from the ten legal experts who are interested in the Chief Justice post.

A three-judge bench comprising Antony Mrima, Hellen Onkwani and Reuben Nyakundi gave the directive after four petitioners sought a stop order, arguing all the candidates for CJ position had not met minimum legal requirements for consideration.

So far, the JSC has conducted eight out of ten CJ interviews.

The court, however, said the remaining two interviews can continue, but the winner shouldn’t be picked until the matter is heard and determined.

The judges, however, stopped all the Supreme Court Judges’ interviews, which were scheduled to begin on Monday, April 26.

The bench was appointed by Acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu after four applicants namely Memba Ocharo, Dolphin Nafula, Philip Muchiri and Damaris Ndirangu sought to have the JSC stopped from holding the interviews.

The three judges said the petitioners had raised “weighty issues” to warrant a hearing.

One of the issues raised by the petitioners, through their lawyers Danstan Omari and Prof. Elisha Ongoya, is the candidates’ non-declaration of their wealth and that of their spouses.

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The petitioners also questioned circumstances under which Prof. Olive Mugenda was installed as the interviewing panel’s chairperson. The litigants argued, ideally the Chief Justice, in this case Philomena Mwilu, should be the one to chair the sessions.

So far, the eight candidates interviewed for CJ post are: Said Chitembwe, David Marete, Mathews Nderi, Prof. Patricia Kameri, Philip Murgor, Fred Ngatia, Martha Koome and William Ouko.

Dr. Wekesa Moni is scheduled to appear before the Commission on Thursday, April 22, whereas Alice Yano is penciled in for interview on Friday, April 23.

Supreme Court Judge candidates were scheduled for interviews beginning Monday, April 26.

The eight shortlisted candidates for the Judge positions in order of their scheduled appearances are: Martha Koome, DK Njagi Marete, Kathurima M’inoti, Mathews Nderi Nduma, Lumumba Nyaberi, William Ouko, Joseph Kiplagat Sergon and Alice Jepkoech Yano.

After the CJ is selected, there will only be one Supreme Court Judge position up for grabs, to replace retired judge, Jackton Boma Ojwang.

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