, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 16 – Chief Justice Willy Mutunga is set to retire from the judiciary on Thursday.
Mutunga exits the Judiciary a year ahead of his scheduled retirement, due to what he termed as a desire to avoid a constitutional crisis during the election year.
The Constitution sets the retirement age for judges at 70 and Mutunga is now 69.
He was appointed Chief Justice in June 2011.
The Judicial Service Commission can only advertise the position of the Chief Justice from Friday after he leaves office.
Following his retirement, the Supreme Court will now be left with four judges after retirement letters were dispatched to Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal and Supreme Court Judge Philip Tunoi.
The senior most of the remaining judges will be Justice Mohammed Ibrahim.
Under Section five of the Supreme Court Act, the judges take precedence after the CJ and the DCJ, according to the dates which they took office as Judges of the Supreme Court.
Where the judges took oath on the same date as in the current situation, precedence shall be in accordance with their professional seniority.
Justice Tunoi was third in the pecking order but with his exit, Justice Ibrahim becomes the presiding judge, having joined the Judiciary before the other three, Jackton Ojwang, Smokin Wanjala and Njoki Ndungu.
Under the same law, a single judge of the Supreme Court can only give interlocutory orders within a legal dispute but the court must have at least five judges to hear and determine a case on merits to its full conclusion.