Judges’ vetting board must obey court orders

Shares

MOSES K. CHELANGA

A keen eye would see that the vetting of judges and magistrates is creating a judicial crisis if events over the past few days are anything to go by. In less than a week, the High Court has issued an order halting the vetting process for a period of 14 days.

The Law Society of Kenya has accused the Chief Justice of influencing the vetting process by favouring one judge and appointing another who is conflicted to sit in a judgment of his cause. The vetting board has issued a terse press statement rubbishing the court order.

The Attorney General, the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Commission of Implementation of the Constitution and Constitution Oversight and Implementation Committee have all joined arms with the board against the judiciary.

The press release by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board on 1st October 2012 intimated that the court order was null and void and made some uncalled for remarks about the presiding judge, the merits of the case pending before the court and the judiciary generally scandalising and lowering the dignity of the Court.

The statement undermines confidence in the judiciary and paints the picture that the courts have been usurped by external forces. The vetting board’s statement dovetails the definition of criminal contempt of court which should not go unpunished.

Court orders ought to be respected, even if the same are issued erroneously or without jurisdiction. If any litigant disagrees with a court order, s/he ought to seek review and not disobey or make mockery of it as the board has done.

Contempt of court obstructs the administration of justice, embarrasses court process and administration of justice shall not be achieved.

The vetting board a few months ago declared Court of Appeal Judge Samuel Bosire unsuitable to continue serving in the judiciary because he was in contempt of a court order during his tenure in the Goldenberg Commission of Inquiry.

Shares
  • I totally agree. Infact, the board’s action goes along way in eroding its very all important credibility. Needless to say, the vetting board’s work is restore faith in our judiciary. But if they show contempt for same what next?

  • I disagree in part with the Author. In recent times, the government, KNUT, KMPDU and the Vetting Board have disregarded court orders. This state is undesirable, but so is this selective amnesia and stating that the problem is only that of the Vetting Board. Secondly in stating that a judge is both a player and a referee, the Board alludes to the fact that a judge cannot sit and purport to listen to any matter of the Board when he is still subject to it. It is unprocedural and against the rules of natural justice. The Judge is an interested party to the outcome of the suit. If anything no judge yet to have undergone the vetting process should be appointed to that Bench.

    • Nick

      I agree entirely that you can’t be a referee and a player in the same game.

Hit enter to search or ESC to close