, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 13 – National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi will next week issue a ruling detailing an accountability framework to be used between Parliament and Judiciary when handling queries.
This comes after Chief Justice Willy Mutunga over the weekend wrote a commentary dismissing a Public Accounts Committee report recommending measures to root out graft in the Judiciary after an audit exposed massive corruption, saying it was full of inaccuracies and abusive language.
In his letter dated October 27 and copied to Speaker Muturi, House Majority and Minority leaders, Chairmen and committee members in both PAC and Legal Affairs, the CJ said the Arms of Government should come with an accountability framework particularly as concerns appearance before parliamentary Committees.
“This matter could have been handled differently had the CJ merely written to the me or the PAC chairman but you cannot write and then take the letter to the media. The commentaries that have come as a result of that letter have put the reputation of this House and the committee into disrepute,” Speaker said as he faulted the manner in which the CJ handled the matter.
“If we are talking about the Committee of Arms surely is that the way to show it, because the CJ has all along been accommodated, whenever he wrote requesting this he was given.”
The Speaker defended the Public Accounts Committee from attacks by CJ Mutunga who accused it of being used to taint the Judiciary.
“We will give a considered ruling either on Tuesday or Wednesday, so that it is something that helps us to move forward. If we need to put in some new directions about how to handle one another perhaps we can suggest in that communication.”
“For me I don’t think whether the committee is to blame because they did the best they could have done in the circumstances,” Muturi said while noting that the PAC had sent a questionnaire to the CJ after he snubbed their invitations.
The CJ argued that the Judiciary was driven by the belief that an independent organ of government delivered better on its mandate by embracing the principle of inter-dependence.
Majority Leader Aden Duale requested the Speaker to defer debate of the report which had been listed in Thursday afternoon’s Order Paper in order to give the CJ an opportunity to respond to issues raised.
“The Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya is submitting himself to the will of this House all he asking for is simple fair hearing, accuracy and justice,” Duale pleaded.
Speaker Muturi agreed to defer the report but refused to allow its withdrawal saying it would set a bad precedent.
PAC was probing a Special Auditor-General report on the extent of corruption and loss of billions of shillings that resulted in the sacking of former Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Gladys Shollei.
Shollei has since been charged by the Ethic and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over the irregular purchase of a Sh310 million house for the Chief Justice.
The 144-page report suggests that CJ Mutunga was seemingly unable to control officials working under him, amid massive misappropriation of resources and routine flouting of laid down rules for management of public funds.
The committee recommends that the CJ should take responsibility for all irregular payments made under his instructions and allowances paid to the Judicial Service Commissioners for attending meetings that were not convened with his knowledge and approval.