, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 6 – Chief Justice Evans Gicheru is being urged to state whether he will retire to take up a position as Judge of Appeal when his term of office ends in February.
The Kenyan Chapter of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said this will ensure a smooth transition for him.
Speaking to Capital News Chairman Albert Kamunde said that provisions should be made to appoint another CJ immediately.
"His term is coming to an end and we know that the Constitution says he has the option to either serve as a judge of the Court of Appeal or retire but it would help if he would state what his position is to remove any doubt or to clarify his position in regard to the matter," he said.
"It is important for the CJ to really get involved in the process although he is entitled to deal with the situation the way he so wishes to ensure there is smooth transition," Mr Kamunde further said.
Mr Gicheru\’s appointment by President Mwai Kibaki in 2003 came after the suspension of the then Chief Justice Bernard Chunga.
At the time, Mr Gicheru was appointed to the office of CJ, the judiciary was under the spotlight and the threshold of judicial reforms was on a scale not previously witnessed.
When he took over, Justice Gicheru pledged to end the culture of \’missing files\’ and delayed court cases.
He was in charge when there was radical surgery of the judiciary that saw half of the magistrates and a third of judges lose their jobs.
Five years later, he promised another surgery that never materialised.
A section of lawyers had earlier wanted him to resign after the hurried swearing-in of the President following the 2007 disputed presidential elections.
The Law Society of Kenya, in a statement in January 2008, said part of the problem the political impasse at that time could not be taken to court was that, the public was not confident that the CJ was impartial.
His greatest challenge has been steering the judiciary through unprecedented reforms and thereafter keeping abreast of contemporary best practices in the administration of justice.
Justice Gicheru was appointed a judge of the High Court of Kenya in 1982.
He was after six years appointed as judge of the Court of Appeal, where he served until February 2003, when he was appointed Chief Justice.
Prior to his judicial appointment, Justice Gicheru had worked as Senior State Counsel in the office of the Attorney General and as an administrative officer in the Office of the President.
Bestowed with a position that requires a level of integrity beyond reproach, Justice Gicheru had enjoyed security of tenure.
At 67 years of age at present he could not have been removed from office until his retirement on attaining 74 years, according to the old Constitution.