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Members, Secretary, and Registrar of the Judicial Service Commission at the steps of the Supreme Court on April 23, 2021 at the conclusion of two weeks of interviews of 10 candidates for the position of Chief Justice.

Kenya

JSC concludes CJ interviews, to comply with court order barring it from naming Maraga successor

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 23 – The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) said Friday it will abide by the court ruling barring it from naming the nominee for the position of Chief Justice after concluding interviews.

The panel’s chairperson Prof Olive Mugenda said the commission will nominate the most deserving candidate who will replace David Maraga who retired on January 12 but will have to abide by the court ruling issued on Thursday.

“The rule of law applies to every institution, individual, or authority and JSC is not an exception, we will wait for the court process to be concluded before we resume and conclude the process in terms of announcing our nominees and also commencing the process of interviewing the judges of the supreme court,” Mugenda said, “As a commission, we are very committed to ensuring a credible process and nominate the most deserving candidate for the CJ position.”

Mugenda made the remarks Friday when the JSC concluded interviews for 10 candidates who were shortlisted. Eldoret-based lawyer Alice Chepkoech Yano was the last candidate to be interviewed.

Other candidates who faced the panel since last week include Justices Said Chitembwe, Nduma Nderi, David Marete, Martha Koome and William Ouko as well as lawyers Fred Ngatia and Philip Murgor, Prof Patricia Mbote and Prof Wekesa Moni.

The candidates were interviewed in race to succeed David Maraga who retired in January 2021.

The Constitutional Court on Thursday declined a request by JSC to stay its orders restraining it from naming the Chief Justice nominee pending determination of a petition challenging the recruitment process.

In a ruling delivered by Justices Anthony Mrima, (Lady) Helen Onkwany and Reuben Nyakundi, the court noted that there was ample time for the JSC to approach the Court of Appeal.

“We are of the very considered position that there is ample time for the 1st respondent to approach the court of Appeal before the orders issued by this Court take effect, it is for this reason the court declines the invitation to issue an interim stay order,” the three-judge bench noted.

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 JSC had argued that it needed orders barring the panel from scoring CJ candidates stayed by the High Court before it could file an application for stay before the Court of Appeal.

The commission was responding to a ruling in which the High Court had issued several orders barring the Commission from among other things, scoring CJ candidates.

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