, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 19, – National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has revived an intergovernmental forum dubbed ‘The Big Six’ to act as a platform to address recurring accounting and policy queries with the Judiciary.
The Speaker’s communication comes after Chief Justice Willy Mutunga published a commentary dismissing a Public Accounts Committee report recommending measures to root out graft in the Judiciary after an audit report exposed massive corruption, saying it was full of inaccuracies and abusive language.
The Big Six will be chaired by either chairperson of the PIC or PAC with the CJ attending in his capacity as head of the judiciary while the Speaker will appear in his capacity as the Chairman of the Parliamentary Service Commission.
The forum whose membership includes the Attorney General, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Controller of Budget and the Chairperson of the Budget and Appropriations Committee will address at ‘policy level way of dealing with recurring audit queries and cross cutting issues in the three arms of the government’.
Muturi also ruled that in future, the CJ will be required to honour House Committee Invitations and Summon in his capacity as Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission.
“Any witness summoned by the Assembly or House Committee is obliged to appear before the Assembly or House Committee without fail. This includes the chairperson of the JSC, or the holder of that office or in their personal capacity. Should the Chief Justice be required to appear before a committee of this House in his capacity as the CJ, the respective chairperson will chair such a meeting. Only in very exceptional circumstances will the Speaker chair such a meeting,” Muturi said in his ruling informed by practices in the House of Commons and the Canadian Parliament among other jurisdictions.
The Speaker also turned down a request the Majority Leader Aden Duale made last week for PAC to be allowed to withdraw the report in order to give the CJ an opportunity to respond to issues raised.
“The PAC Report on the Special Audit Report of the Judicial Service Commission and the Judiciary of May 2014 slated for debate in the House will not be reopened for re-consideration by the committee. However in light of any additional information the committee or indeed any member is at liberty to propose any amendment(s) in accordance with Standing Order 54 after the question on the motion has been proposed,” he said.
Speaker Muturi agreed to stand down the report but refused to allow for its withdrawal saying it would set a bad precedent.
The House public expenditure watchdog committee was probing a Special Auditor-General report on the extent of corruption and loss of billions of shillings that resulted in the sacking of former Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Gladys Shollei.
Shollei has since been charged by the Ethic and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over the irregular purchase of a Sh310 million house for the Chief Justice.
The 144-page report suggests that Dr Mutunga was seemingly unable to control officials working under him, amid massive misappropriation of resources and routine flouting of laid down rules for management of public funds.
The committee recommends that the CJ should take responsibility for all irregular payments made under his instructions and allowances paid to the Judicial Service Commissioners for attending meetings that were not convened with his knowledge and approval.