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Lady Justice Martha Koome Karambu when she was interviewed for the position of Chief Justice on April 14, 2021. JSC announced on April 27, 2021 that she Koome had been nominated to succeed David Maraga making her the first woman to hold that post in Kenya.

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JSC nominates Martha Koome for Chief Justice post

NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 27 – The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has nominated Court of Appeal Judge Martha Koome for the position of Chief Justice to replace David Maraga.

The Chairperson of the JSC recruitment panel Professor Olive Mugenda said Koome’s name has been sent to President Uhuru Kenyatta for formal appointment.

“After lengthy deliberations and careful considerations of the performance of the various candidates, the JSC has unanimously recommended the appointment of honourable Lady Justice Martha Koome, judge of the Court of Appeal as the Chief Justice of Kenya and has submitted her name to the President of Kenya for appointment,” Prof Mugenda told a news conference

JSC did not disclose marks scored by Koome or the nine other candidates who were interviewed for the post.

Candidates who were interviewed for the CJ post include President of the Court of Appeal William Ouko, Court of Appeal Judge Martha Koome, High Court Judge Said Chitembwe and Employment and Labour Relations Judges Mathews Nduma Nderi and Njagi Marete.

Others are Senior Counsel Philip Murgor, Fred Ngatia and Patricia Mbote, Prof Wekesa Moni and Alice Yano.

On Tuesday, renowned law professor Makau Mutua and Katiba Institute filed an application in the High Court seeking an order to compel the Judicial Service Commission to publish marks scored by each candidate interviewed for the position.

In the petition filed on Tuesday, the two said there was need for the results to be released to the public for transparency.

Mutua said he had also applied for the position of Chief Justice in 2016 but was not successful but the commission has never released his results to him.

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He said had written to JSC seeking information relating to the criteria for evaluation of qualification, particularly if the criteria used included indicators other than those provided under Section 13 of the JSC Act.

However, the commission responded saying they will not disclose the said information to him in order to protect the privacy of all the applicants.

“The reasons given by the JSC in arriving at its decision were arbitrary and insufficient contrary to Article 47 of the Constitution,” he said.

Mutua and Katiba Institute argue that the refusal by the commission to provide the petitioners with the information sought is an infringement of their rights.

“That an order be issued compelling JSC to provide the information sought under Article 35 1 a and to publicize that information in accordance with Article 35 3 of the Constitution and failure to provide reasons and to adequate reasons for refusal of disclosure is a violation or threat of violation of Article 47 1 and 2 and sections 4 and 6 of the fair Administrative Action Act,” they said in their petition.

Mutua wants the court to stop the commission from forwarding the name of a nominee to the President until the case is heard and determined.

The case was filed hours after the Appellate court suspended an order by the High Court which had barred the JSC from naming the candidate selected from the 10 interviewed for the CJ post.

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