, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 26 – High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi on Wednesday ruled that the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board (JMVB) cannot sack judicial officers based on complaints made after the promulgation of the Constitution.
Justice Ngugi found that by doing so, the JMVB would be infringing on the mandate of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) which is empowered by the Constitution to: “Appoint, receive complaints against, investigate and remove from office or otherwise discipline registrars, magistrates, other judicial officers and other staff of the Judiciary,” as per Article 172 (1) (c).
She therefore declared null and void the sacking of judicial officers for whom the decision was based on complaints made after the August 27, 2010.
“To hold otherwise, the court would give the board the mandate it does not have under the Constitution and extend its timelines,” Ngugi explained.
Ngugi was ruling on an application filed by the Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA) which accused the JMVB of acting outside its mandate.
The JMVB had asked the court to dismiss the petition accusing the KMJA of using it to delay the vetting process.
It had also argued that such a decision would keep it from fully carrying out its mandate of guaranteeing the integrity of all the judges and magistrates who were serving on the bench at the time the Constitution was promulgated.
The JMVB is currently vetting magistrates having axed five on January 31, 2014 and leaving it with 215 more magistrates and two judges to vet after having vetted 101 magistrates.
“The Board shall by the end of March have vetted another 48 magistrates and handled at least 14 review applications,” JMVB Chairman Sharad Rao said.