, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 16 – Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has emphasised the need for courts to robustly enforce court orders and use all the powers that are permitted by the Constitution and the law to ensure that they are obeyed.
Speaking during the opening of a workshop on High Court Judges’ performance on Friday morning, the CJ stated that rule of law must be observed without allowing any undue influence from anyone.
Mutunga stressed that the Judiciary cannot aid and abet the breakdown in the rule of law and should this happen, the country could slip into anarchy.
“We must frown with all the deep furrows and our judicial faces can contort to any attempt by any litigant, advocate, institution, or office to disregard court orders and judicial determinations. It is a matter of our constitutional duty and obligation that is also demanded by our oath of office. The Judiciary cannot aid and abet the breakdown in the rule of law and a slide into anarchy,” he said.
The Chief Justice urged judges to exercise their persuasive and coercive powers to help the country and all its institutions, respect the rule of law.
“We must exercise our persuasive and coercive powers as bestowed on us by the Constitution and the law, to help the country and all its institutions, respect the rule of law and embrace the culture of constitutionalism, as all modern civilisations do. Our stability as a country, and our development as a people, is directly dependent on our attitude towards the rule of law,” he said.
He stated that the Judiciary must not bend the law to please the corrupt or the powerful but faithfully apply and interpret the law to advance the cause of justice for all.
“In these four years, we have laid the foundations for a modern, dynamic and respected institution. The gains we have made need to be defended and consolidated. And once we are able to measure our performance, and report on it honestly we shall generate the necessary public confidence which this institution will need to weather hostile political and economic forces that are naturally ill at ease with a strong, independent, incorruptible and competent,” he indicated.
During the workshop, Mutunga enumerated the gains of the judiciary in the last four years which include the assertion of its independence.
“Four years ago, the independence of the Judiciary was in doubt. Today, the independence of the Judiciary is fully asserted and the co-equal organs of government all know that the Judiciary is an organ of consequence; not to be taken for granted anymore, and firmly occupying its place in Kenya’s constitutional framework,” he stated.
He further pointed out that before, public confidence was very low but that at present, through the decisions, conduct of judicial officers and public outreach programs, public confidence has been restored.
He recalled that initially, the appointment of judges was opaque but at present the large number of judges go through an open and competitive recruitment process.
“Four years ago, we had an institution that had a rather hostile attitude towards scholarship, and judges, magistrates, and staff pursued further studies under cover, to avoid being punished or disciplined or even sacked! Judges took the rather strange view that they could not be trained, and the Judiciary Training Institute (JTI) was largely moribund, reduced to hosting the judges Colloquium once a year,” he stated.