Judges’ vetting board must obey court orders

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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.

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