NAIROBI, Kenya May 15 – The nominee for Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal is to be vetted by the Parliament next Wednesday, Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi has directed.
In his communication to the House, Muturi asked the yet to be formed Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs to expedite its work given that the matter has been pending since late last year.
“Members will however recall that this approval exercise has not been attended to due to delays in the formation of committees and as indicated in a previous communication, was one of the businesses that had been pending for inordinately too long,” stated the House Speaker.
“Given the constitutional importance of the office of the Deputy Chief Justice, I now direct that the approval process be expedited.”
Justice Rawal and the members of the general public will now be notified through an advertisement in at least two national daily newspapers of the time and place for holding the approval hearings. The public will have seven days before the hearing to communicate to the House through the Clerk of the National Assembly on the suitability of Rawal.
In this regard, the Speaker ordered that the notification be made by May 16, 2013.
After the public participation period, the committee will then commence its public hearings on Wednesday May 22, 2013.
“Thereafter, the committee is hereby directed to table its Report before this House on or before Tuesday May, 28, 2013 for consideration,” the Speaker directed.
The Constitution requires the president to appoint a deputy CJ in accordance with the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and subject to the approval of the National Assembly.
Under the Public Appointments (Parliamentary Approval) Act and Part XI of our Standing Orders, the National Assembly is required to conclude the process of approval or rejection of the nominee within fourteen days from the date of notification.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga who always chairs the Judicial Service Commission cited experience in judicial matters as the key factor that placed Rawal above four other applicants who had been interviewed for the job.
Rawal had attempted to get the position in 2012 before it was awarded to Nancy Baraza, who later resigned after she was found unsuitable to hold the office following an altercation with a guard on the eve of 2012 New Year.
Justice Rawal holds a Bachelor of Arts, as well as Bachelor and Master of Laws in constitutional and administrative law. In 1975 she became the first woman lawyer to set up her own private practice in Kenya. She ran her general practice until 1999 when she was appointed a commissioner of assize, and thereafter a judge of the High Court.
She has also chaired several other commissions arguing that her rich experience will boost the work of the Judiciary if she is selected the next DCJ.
In 2010, she was appointed to help top government officials record statements with International Criminal Court investigators who were pursuing Kenyans accused of perpetrating post election violence in 2007.
In 2012, Justice Rawal was appointed by former President Mwai Kibaki to head the team set up to investigate the June 10, 2012 helicopter crash that killed six government officials including the late Internal Security minister George Saitoti and his assistant, Orwa Ojode.
Justice Rawal was among five candidates who were shortlisted for the job which fell vacant after Nancy Baraza resigned after she was accused of assaulting a security guard at the Village Market on 2012 New Year’s Eve.
A Tribunal headed by former Tanzanian Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani recommended her removal from office for “gross misconduct and misbehaviour.” Baraza opted to appeal against the decision before eventually choosing to resign.
During her interview with the JSC, Rawal said she was the most experienced to replace Baraza after serving in the Judiciary for many years.