, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 24 – The Industrial Court will determine on March 7 whether former Chief Registrar of the Judiciary (CRJ), Gladys Boss Shollei, was wrongfully dismissed.
Shollei wants the court to quash the termination letter that she received from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on October 18, 2013 and effectively reinstate her as CRJ.
“That’s what would happen should the termination be quashed, we would go back to the way things were, with Shollei as CRJ,” her lawyer Donald Kipkorir told Capital FM News following the hearing of the petition on Friday.
In the petition heard by Industrial Court Judge Nduma Nderi, the former CRJ contends that her sacking was premeditated by what she referred to as the ‘War Council’ composed of the Chief Justice (CJ) Willy Mutunga and a handful of other Judiciary staff members.
Kipkorir relied on a, “trove,” of emails allegedly exchanged between the War Council members starting from October 2012 – one year after Shollei took up the post of CRJ – to make his point.
“In a 30 point war plan they devised to implicate Shollei in corruption and use that as the basis to remove her from office,” Kipkorir charged.
Appearing together with Paul Muite for the JSC, lawyer Issa Mansour questioned the veracity of the emails submitting that neither Kipkorir nor Shollei could account for their origins.
“When they (Kipkorir and Shollei) appeared before the JSC on October 16 they themselves could not ascertain their authenticity,” Mansour submitted.
The backbone of Shollei’s case was however the argument that the JSC did not have the jurisdiction to terminate her.
“This is a case of the JSC crying louder than the bereaved. They had no business sacking her for financial impropriety as the Treasury to whom she was answerable did not forward any complaints to them” he submitted.
An argument Muite said only served to prove Shollei’s defiance of her former employer’s authority.
“The case that the petitioner is making out is that she is not answerable to the Judicial Service Commission which hired her, so my Lord, what further evidence of insubordination and indiscipline should one go looking for?” he posed.
The word, “unreasonable,” was also a point of contention between the counsels with Muite contending that the reference made by Shollei to the JSC was further proof of insubordination and with Kipkorir countering that it was not.
“The petitioner had no qualms in describing the Judicial Service Commission as reckless, it was not just unreasonable. You don’t call a press conference to hurl words such as reckless to your employer,” Muite submitted.
The, “corpus of allegations,” for which Shollei was also sacked also came up with Kipkorir accusing the JSC of not supplying Shollei with the names of her accusers so she could effectively mount a defence.
“Shollei has not been given the reasons for her removal to date in violation of Article 47(2). They denied the proceedings of the October 18, 2013. She has always demanded them,” Kipkorir informed Nderi.
Mansour countered this argument on the basis of the JSC regulations which do not require the employer to give any reasons for its decisions.
“More importantly there’s a right under the Constitution for access to any information regardless of that provision under Article 35 and yet they have made no application to compel the commission to release any documents,” he submitted.
The hearing took place two weeks after the JSC appointed Atieno Amadi to replace Shollei after she lost an earlier petition to stop the recruitment process.
It also took place as Mutunga sought to be struck off a list of respondents in a petition filed by 10 judiciary staff members who have accused the JSC of victimising them following Shollei’s removal from the office of CRJ.
“Any decisions he made where they are concerned, he made in his capacity as chair of the Judicial Service Capacity and there is therefore no need to list him as a separate respondent,” Muite submitted on his behalf.
Industrial Court Judge Linnet Ndolo is scheduled to give her ruling on the CJ’s application on the morning of January 31.