NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 26 – Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has asserted that the Supreme Court will deliver impartial judgments and assured Kenyans that it will be free from external influence.
Speaking during the inaugural sitting of the court, Mutunga, who is also the President of the court urged the public to count on the fidelity of its decisions but called for the respect of rule of law.
“All persons, authorities and figures must undertake to live by the rule of law and therefore abide by the decisions and judgments of this court. It is only when people and authorities respect the law as and when enacted; and respect court decisions as and when delivered, that the rule of law thrives,” he said.
Mutunga also said he envisaged an open court where the public will be invited as witnesses in the pursuit of justice.
Kenneth Akide, the chairman of the Law Society of Kenya, said as one of the new institutions within the Judiciary, it was prudent for it to play a pivotal role in the realisation of the Constitution’s vision.
“We look forward to having this Supreme Court interpret the Constitution, advance the rule of law and democracy.”
The LSK chairman noted that the public was keenly observing how the court will strengthen the rule of law, courageous use of the laws, having a just society that upholds the Bill of Rights, and provides a fair electoral system as an enjoyment of true democracy.
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Keriako Tobiko who also spoke during the inaugural ceremony said being the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court has enormous responsibility including checking the excess of the other arms of the government.
“This court has onerous responsibility and duty not only to foster greater access to justice, to promote, advance and protect the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms by all persons in Kenya,” he said.
“In short, this court is our country’s beacon of hope, liberty, peace and prosperity.”
Attorney General Githu Muigai assured the court of support from his office but challenging the court to also do its best by striving to provide continuity and stability. “Inspire the confidence of the legal fraternity, confidence of the public and scholars that can be built upon to achieve the justice that people desire,” the AG said.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo assured the court full support in ensuring resources allocated to it are available to run its functions and affairs.
The Supreme Court comprises seven judges in which the Chief Justice is the President. Deputy CJ Nancy Baraza is the Deputy President. Other judges of the Court are Philip Tunoi, Jackton Ojwang, Mohammed Ibrahim, Smokin Wanjala and Njoki Ndungu.
According to Article 163 (2) of the Constitution, the Supreme Court shall be properly constituted for the purposes of its proceedings if it is composed of five judges.
Apart from having the original jurisdiction to hear and determine disputes relating to presidential elections, the Supreme Court may give an advisory opinion at the request of the national government or any state organ.
The court later reconvened for the hearing of the first case which was filed by the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution that seeks among others the next date of the general election, interpretation on how appointments are made to Constitutional Offices and also issues of gender balance and people with special needs.
Justices Ibrahim and Wanjala heard arguments from more than a dozen lawyers on whether the case should be heard afresh or whether the Supreme court could pick it from where the Appeal Court, then sitting as the highest court left it.
The Judges will make the ruling on this aspect on Wednesday next week.