, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 30 – The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has criticised the appointment of a tribunal to probe six Judicial Service Commissioners, saying president Uhuru Kenyatta acted in haste.
Speaking on the sidelines of a lawyers’ forum on Saturday, LSK Chairman Eric Mutua indicated that the tribunal, which is to be headed by retired Justice Aaron Ringera, would only prolong the stalemate in the Judiciary.
“There is going to be a prolonged stalemate. I can tell you and I can guarantee you that most likely than not, those six members of the JSC will proceed and file a suite in court to stop and challenge that tribunal from proceeding with its work and it is going to be very easy for a judge to grant an order stopping the tribunal from proceeding with its work,” he said.
“Once the tribunal has been stopped, then we are going to have a paralysis of some sorts. We are going to have a stalemate were the JSC cannot undertake its work. We expect by January as the CJ had mentioned some time back, there is going to be an appointment of forty judges.
They were to meet the back log in the Judiciary. I do not think that come January, the JSC will be in capacity to meet even if they get a temporary order,” he added.
He further stated that the President should have heeded a ruling of the High Court that said the JSC is independent and should not have been subjected to a parliamentary probe.
Kenyatta gazetted the 4-member tribunal on Friday after the National Assembly passed a petition requiring him to institute a probe into the six commissioners.
“I do not think they will have the legitimacy to proceed with their mandate. They will need to resolve those issues. Unless the Executive steps in again and tries to bring those two arms of government together, then this stalemate will continue and it will keep on hurting the public,” Mutua stated while emphasising the need to heed the court ruling on the matter.
“The wise move in my view – given the fact that we have a situation where the process was commenced outside the rule of law – the more suitable step that should have been taken is that we should have first of all obeyed the rule of law by obeying what the courts had said,” he stated.
The president had said that the Constitution binds him to act on Parliament’s petition.
However, LSK is also unhappy with Ringera being a part of the tribunal, with Mutua saying that he lacked impartiality.
‘If you look at the composition of the tribunal, there is Justice Aaron Ringera who at one point applied to be a judge of the Supreme Court and he was not short listed. He went out in public and said this was unfair, one of the commissioners of the JSC Ahmednassir Abdullahi said that this position is not an entitlement to the Honorable Justice Aaron Ringera. Having had this kind of confrontation between one of the JSC commissioners and the now appointed chair, you do not expect justice from that tribunal,” warned Mutua.
Ringera was appointed chair of the tribunal whose other members are Jeniffer Shamalla, Ambrose Weda and Mutua Kilaka.
The LSK chairman explained further that Shamalla had also come out in the media directly critisising the JSC.
“One of the members of that tribunal in the name of Jennifer Shamalla has come out on national TV to say that the JSC does not know what it is doing and she even criticized the honorable CJ. I do not think that she is going to be impartial,” he stated.
“The way forward is to respect the rule of law and the fact that the President appoints a council member of the LSK complicates issues even further and for a majority of us, we do see the possibility of that tribunal operating in an impartial manner.”