, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 31 – The Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Board has said it will move to the Supreme Court to seek interpretation whether its recommendations can be challenged before court.
Chairman Sharad Rao emphasised that the vetting process should not be subject to any form of review by any court under whatever circumstances.
“Because of the great public interest in the matter, the board intends to invoke directly the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court with a view to seek their ruling on whether Section 23 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution required that the board’s decisions be final or whether it permits the judiciary to second guess them,” Rao indicated.
On Tuesday, a five-judge bench temporarily halted the removal of Court of Appeal judges Riaga Omollo, Samuel Bosire, Joseph Nyamu and High Court judge Jeanne Gacheche from the bench, arguing that the High Court had jurisdiction to handle complaints lodged by the sacked judges against the board’s decision, because the board cannot be equated to the High Court or the Supreme Court.
“The High Court’s ruling has the effect of keeping those same judges in office despite the determination by the board and despite the clear language of the Act. The board is concerned that allowing the court to review these determinations will inevitably lead to interminable litigations. This will frustrate the speedy transition envisioned by the Constitution,” Rao said.
He added that the ruling is likely to hamper the reform process in the Judiciary and deny Kenyans the opportunity to vet the integrity of judges ahead of the 2013 general election.
“The court has ruled that it has power to review the decisions about suitability given in the case of five judges whom the board found unsuitable. All five had been given an opportunity to apply to the board for an internal review and in each case, it was rejected,” he said.
He stated that the public would lose confidence in the Judiciary if the ruling by the High Court is upheld.
“The board will on Friday apply to the High Court to stay Tuesday’s ruling until the Supreme Court hears and determines the issue of the High Court’s jurisdiction. The board feels that the matter should be decided at the highest level as soon as possible,” he said.