NAIROBI, Kenya May 26- Senators in the Senate Standing Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights have called on the Judiciary to prioritise the hearing and determination of an appeal in which the state is challenging the High Court’s ruling that the President has no power to reject the 41 judges appointed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
Led by Committee Chairman Okong’o Omogeni (Nyamira) and Senate Minority Leader Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni), the legislators asserted that it is critical that the matter is finalised within the same fashion that the case touching on the legality of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process was handled.
“Whilst the other case that was ruled on last week concerning the Constitution Amendment Bill (2020) appears to be expedited, nobody seems to be hearing the same about the one concerning the Judges, so that at the very least the country can move on, We are stuck on this issue Mr. Attorney General. Your legacy should be to expedite this matter and for our judges to be treated properly,” the Makueni Senator argued.
His Nyamira counterpart weighed in, “I think you (the AG) should also see the injustice this is causing so that this can come to an end.”
Appearing before the Senate Committee, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki said he is also eager to have the matter heard and determined expeditiously.
“Administratively both the Solicitor-General and the Honourable, the Attorney General are doing everything they can to expedite this particular appeal. But you will understand Sir, that the matter is not within the control of the Office of the Attorney General, it is in the Judiciary and all we can do is make representation, which we have and we will continue to do so that we are given an early hearing date,” the AG told the Senators.
Solicitor General Ken Ogeto faulted that the High Court decision limiting the President’s ability to discharge his duty of protecting the values and principles of the Constitution.
“There is no stay in place, but this is a matter that is of great public importance. It raises serious and fundamental constitutional issues and the position that we (State Law Office) have taken, and the position that the Government has taken is that we should allow the court process to take its full course before the decision is made,” Ogeto explained.
President Kenyatta has been criticized for his inaction which players in the judicial system feels have crippled services in courts and violated the rights of the designated judges.
Eleven judges were forwarded to the Court of Appeal and 30 to the High Court but they are yet to be appointed.
Lawyer Harrison Okeche who was one of the nominees whose names were forwarded by the Judicial Service Commission for appointment as a judge died in October before he was confirmed as an Employment and Labour Court Judge.
In February 2020, a three-Judge bench of the High Court ruled that the President had no mandate to review, reconsider or decline to appoint those recommended for promotion by the JSC.