NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 11- The vetting of High Court Judges will resume on Thursday after the tenure of the vetting board was extended through amendments to the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Act, 2011.
The Act had only allowed Judges of the Appeal and High Courts to be vetted within three months from February 23. However, amendments contained in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, 2012 has extended the Board’s tenure to end of February next year.
Justice Kalpana Rawal who is now chairing the Commission of Inquiry into the Ngong helicopter crash, will be the first one to be vetted when the process resumes.
She has opted for private vetting and she is expected to take the hot seat at 9am, Thursday.
By the time the vetting process stopped only seven out of 44 High Court Judges had undergone vetting.
The amended law has also transferred the power to vet magistrates from the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
The amendment has irked the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), which has since petitioned offices including that of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and that of the Attorney General.
According to LSK, the vetting of magistrates is a function of an independent body as provided for in Article 171 of the Constitution and not that of the JSC.
The lawyers have insisted that there will be no transparency and fairness in the process as the JSC is in its composition lacks representation of foreign judges.
They say that there is likely to arise a conflict of interest as some members of the JSC (a sitting magistrate, the registrar and the deputy registrar who man the Secretariat) will be subject to the vetting in their capacities as Magistrates.
Last week Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa assured the LSK that the government will in two weeks look into sections in the Statute law Miscellaneous Amendment Bill that the lawyers had objected to.