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Judges board ignores court order

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 1 – The Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board (JMVB) on Monday vowed to ignore a court order stopping it from continuing with the vetting process.

Board Chairman Sharad Rao told a news conference that the board is not bowed by decisions of the Judiciary but provisions of the Constitution that has mandated it to vet judges.

“The board wishes to emphasise that it does not accept the Judiciary had jurisdiction to sit in judgement over its work. We have been given a mandate by the people of Kenya, through the Constitution, to see the vetting process through to speedy conclusion,” he said.

He went on further to clarify that the Constitution insulated the board from such interferences, “the clear provisions of the Constitution were designed to prevent precisely the situation which has arisen, namely, that members of the Judiciary would seek to obstruct the very process in terms of which they were themselves to be vetted.”

While the court order suspended the vetting process for 14 days, Rao regretted that Judge Mohammed Warsame issued the ruling ignoring a request to establish whether it was within the jurisdiction of the court or not.

According to Rao, Mohammed who is scheduled to appear before the board for vetting on October 16 also issued the ruling without giving counsel present the right to be heard.

“This order was issued despite a request that the judge rescue himself and that the Court first determine the issue of whether it has jurisdiction to hear the matter at all. The order purporting to stay the work of the Board was accordingly issued without argument being heard from counsels who were present in court, and despite the manifest conflict of interest of one of the judges in the 2: 1 majority,” he said.

Rao however clarified that Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was in support of the board to continue with its work without interruptions. He said the judges on the waiting list were also anxious and wanted to go through the vetting board as per the schedule, “They are insistent that we proceed with their matters, as they are not parties to the court case and never sought a stay order.”

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