Judiciary seeks amendments to election laws ahead of 2017

May 12, 2015 10:38 am
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Rules and regulations in general, Kimaru said, were necessary to avoid abuse of the court of last resort in election petitions/FILE
Rules and regulations in general, Kimaru said, were necessary to avoid abuse of the court of last resort in election petitions/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 – The Judiciary has recommended the amendment of the Constitution to allow for 30 days to hear a Presidential petition up from the current 14.

Justice Luka Kimaru who is part of a team of judicial officers charged with evaluating the performance of the Judiciary, said the recommendations are before the Chief Justice but the ultimate responsibility for the adoption of the proposal lies with the political class.

“As a member of the performance management and measurement committee of the Judiciary, we did a survey throughout the country and there was consensus from the Supreme Court to the magistrates that 14 days for the hearing of a Presidential Petition is too short,” he said during the launch of a report on the lessons Kenya can learn from the 2013 General Election with two years left until the next one.

He said given the time it would reasonably take to file a petition, serve the respondents, have them file a response and have the matter heard and determined, 30 days was a more reasonable timeline.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Vice Chair Lillian Mahiri-Zaja was also in agreement with Justice Kimaru that timelines also need to be set for the Supreme Court to hear election petitions first brought before the lower courts.

“Many times the Supreme Court renders its judgments on notice and without set timelines for it to dispense with election petitions such as the six months given to subordinate courts, it makes it difficult to plan,” she said.

Rules and regulations in general, Kimaru said, were necessary to avoid abuse of the court of last resort in election petitions.

“We never anticipated that appeals would be filed from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court in its wisdom said election petitions are a constitutional issue and therefore they can assume jurisdiction.

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