Ombudsman advises JSC against Parliament summons

August 23, 2013 2:41 pm
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Commission Chairman Otiende Amollo said it was wrong for Parliament to summon the JSC following the decision taken to send Chief Registrar Gladys Shollei on forced leave/FILE
Commission Chairman Otiende Amollo said it was wrong for Parliament to summon the JSC following the decision taken to send Chief Registrar Gladys Shollei on forced leave/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 23 – The Commission on Administrative Justice (Ombudsman) has advised the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) against heeding summons of the parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee saying it is interference with the mandate of an independent arm of government.

In a letter sent to Chief Justice Willy Mutunga on Thursday, Commission Chairman Otiende Amollo said it was wrong for Parliament to summon the JSC following the decision taken to send Chief Registrar Gladys Shollei on forced leave.

He argued that decisions of independent commissions were insulated from the direction or control of any person or authority.

“While it is to be conceded that parliamentary committees may summon anyone in accordance with Article 125 of the Constitution, it is improper to invoke this power against an independent commission,” he argued.

Amollo said the Chief Justice should ask the Speaker of the National Assembly to call for the suspension of the inquiry by the parliamentary committee.

“We urge that you find it fit to engage with the constitutional head of the National Assembly to avert any constitutional stand off by advising the committee to suspend any inquiry until all and any constitutionally mandated processes are exhausted,” he asked.

The Law Society of Kenya on Thursday accused Parliament of overstepping its mandate and interfering with the independence of the Judiciary.

LSK Chairman Eric Mutua said the government has three distinct arms of government and the legislature has no business interfering with the decisions made by either of the two arms.

“We caution Parliament against purporting to review any decision made by the JSC which is a Constitutional body under the Judiciary – an arm of Government,” Mutua said on Thursday.

Shollei had been summoned by the legal affairs committee on Wednesday to shed more light on the matter.

The committee also summoned the JSC to appear before it next week.

The JSC has suspended its probe on the issue after the High Court blocked it from further inquiries into the issue until a petition filed by Shollei is heard and determined.

Shollei wants commissioners Ahmednasir Abdullahi, Mohammed Warsame and Emily Ominde not to sit in any committee probing her conduct because she claims they have a personal vendetta against her.

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