MPs to Play Key Role in CJ Nomination

  • The Members of Parliament are set to debate the Judicial Service (Amendment) Bill 2020 Tuesday, August 3 afternoon.

    The Bill – presented by the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) – will proceed to the Second Reading after it was listed in the day’s Order Paper in a schedule released  Monday, August 2.

    The lawmakers want to amend the provisions of the Judicial Service Act No 1 of 2011 and insert clauses requiring the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to start the recruitment process of a new Chief Justice six months to the retirement date of the incumbent.

    Should the amendments be successfully made to the Act, then the incumbent Chief Justice will be part of the panel that will select their successor. The Chief Justice is the chairperson of the JSC.

    Former Chief Justice David Maraga (right) hands over documents to acting Chief Justice DCJ Philomena Mwilu (left) at a ceremony held at the Supreme Court on Monday, January 11, 2021

    Once the interviewing process is complete, the JSC will forward three names of the most suitable candidates to the President within three days.

    The President will then make his pick among the three contenders and forward the name to the National Assembly within 14 days for vetting.

    The vetting process will be done within three weeks from the reception of the name by the National Assembly and recommendations sent back to the President for approval and subsequent appointment.

    If the nominee is rejected by the National Assembly, the President will select a candidate from the remaining two and forward to the National Assembly for vetting.

    The Bill, fronted by National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee and Kangema MP Muturi Kigano faced opposition from lawyers during its First Reading.

    “In so far as it seeks to revive what the court had dealt with, Parliament has no powers in legislating to amend the Constitution,†LSK President Nelson Havi stated.

    The wrangle between the Judiciary and the other two arms of government, Parliament and Executive, has escalated in the recent past.

    National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi cautioned Chief Justice Martha Karambu Koome that she may be impeached should she fail to allow the lawmakers to query Judiciary’s financial conduct.

    On the other hand, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu is also seeking to trim Koome’s powers by ejecting her from the JSC Chairperson position. The first time MP and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ally, proposes that the position should be held by a non-lawyer who is not a member of the Judiciary.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta poses for a group photo with CJ Martha Koome and 34 judges at State House on Friday, June 4, 2021