NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17 – A five-judge bench of the High Court is Thursday set to rule whether Queen’s Counsel Khawar Qureshi is duly registered to practice in the country, a contention that last month triggered the adjournment of a petition filed by Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu.
Justices Hellen Omondi, Mumbi Ngugi, William Musyoka, Francis Tuiyot and Chacha Mwita adjourned the matter on December 6 after Mwilu’s lawyer, Senator James Orengo told the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions had not produced evidence to prove Qureshi’s admission to the bar in line with provisions under the Advocates Act.
“We would think that it is appropriate that there should have been a gazette notice and if indeed he (Qureshi) is admitted for purposes of any case in exercise of that absolute discretion by the Attorney General, then there should be evidence of admission to the bar,” the Siaya Senator who doubles up as Senate Minority Leader had told the bench.
Orengo contended that the gazette listing the London-based law professor as the lead prosecutor in the case was not backed by requisite documents including a certificate of admission to the bar.
“The Advocates Act (Part III) provides absolute discretion to the Attorney General to admit as an advocate, an advocate coming from the Commonwealth as provided for in Section 11,” Orengo had told the court.
Deputy DPP, Dorcas Oduor however dismissed Orengo’s assertions at the time saying Qureshi had complied with provisions of the Advocates Act.
She maintained that the gazettement of the Special Counsel was procedural.
“The Act provides that the Attorney General, in his absolute discretion, can admit someone as an advocate, the only rider is that one has to pay the Court Registrar’s fee which we did pay,” she indicated.
“Once you pay the Court Registrar’s fee, the court has to issue you with a certificate. What happens is that you can be admitted but the certificate is yet to be availed in which case the practice has been you produce the receipt in court as evidence of admission,” she explained.
DPP Haji is seeking to have Mwilu charged with abuse of office and improperly using her office to obtain the execution of a Sh12 million security belonging to the collapsed Imperial Bank between August and October 2013.
Mwilu was briefly held by the police in August last year after Haji ordered her arraignment in court to answer to the charges.
She was taken into brief custody on August 28 after officers under the instructions of Haji and the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti escorted her from the Supreme Court Building, where she was attending a Judicial Service Commission meeting, to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters.
The DCJ was later that day arraigned before Anti-Corruption Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi who released her on a personal bond of Sh5 million.
She later moved to the High Court where Justice Chacha Mwita of the Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court stayed criminal proceedings against her.
The DPP sought the constitution of a bench to determine Mwilu’s petition at the High Court following the Mwita’s orders citing weighty constitutional matters that needed determination.
Chief Justice David Maraga named the five-judge bench on November 3.