, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 23 – The Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board has reversed its earlier decision of declaring 13 magistrates unfit to continue serving in the Judiciary in the ongoing screening process.
Board chairman Sharad Rao said they have forwarded the cases to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) after the Supreme Court ruled that JSC was the only body mandated to look into discipline issues of the officers as from August 11, 2010 onwards.
The court was of the view that the board can report an officer to JSC for disciplinary action on arising complaints.
The affected magistrates are Celesa Okore Asis, Joseph Riitho Ndiruri, Gilbert Kimutai Too, Robinson Onyoni Oigara, Innocent Masiba Toyo, Walter John Onchuru and Isaac Karasi Orenge.
Others are Douglas Musa Machage, George Sagero Rachami, Sogomo Gathogo, Tanchu Timothy ole Tina, Ruth Bertha Maloba and Phylis Lusiah Shinyada.
“The Magistrates were initially found unsuitable are now being declared suitable on review on the ground that the conduct acts and omissions considered occurred after the effective date. We wish to stress that had it not been for the finding of the Supreme Court theses applications for review may not have succeeded,” he told a news conference held on Friday.
The ruling delivered on December 19, 2014 found that the board has no powers to investigate issues arising after promulgation of the Constitution.
The decision of the five-judge bench comprising Justices Willy Mutunga, Kalpana Rawal, Phillip Tunoi, Jackton Ojwang’ and Smokin Wanjala cushioned the judicial officers from being questioned or dismissed on the basis of complaints or incompetence arising after the said period.
The Board further upheld its decision on the unsuitability of Magistrates Ireri Anne Irungu, Dennis Abraham Kinaro, Teresa Muthoni Mwangi and Micheal Odour Kizito.
Rao also said that in the fresh vetting of magistrates, the Board found Nambafu Celestous Sindano unfit to continue serving while Magistrates Irene Marcia Kahuya, Caroline Nyanchoka Kerage, Anne Nyoike, Mary Wanja Njagi and Robinson Kababe Ondieki were cleared to continue with the duties.
The Commission in the meantime plans to hold its first ever county sittings in Kisumu when it begins vetting judges from western province on Monday.
“In the spirit of devolution and respecting the sentiments of the 47 counties, the board has in the first phase summoned magistrates from the larger Western Kenya region and beyond Kisumu. This is a pilot project and if it goes well, as we hope it will, it shall be rolled out to other regions in the country.”
The term of the Board expires on December 31, 2015.