Monday, June 25, 2012

CJ calms lawyers’ storm over vetting

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. Photo/FILE

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. Photo/FILE 

By NATION REPORTER

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has moved to calm the brewing storm on the vetting of magistrates that has seen the Law Society of Kenya refuse to cooperate with the Judicial Service Commission if it is tasked to conduct the exercise.

Dr Mutunga on Monday said he had talked with LSK to chart a way out of the likely deadlock that may slow down vetting of the court officers.

On Sunday, the LSK said it would not cooperate with JSC on the vetting of magistrates, arguing that the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board was best placed to do the job.

The vetting was to be done by the board but an amendment carried in an omnibus Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill, 2012, passed by Parliament last week could transfer the task to JSC if President Kibaki assents to the Bill.

Dr Mutunga said the JSC was able to do the job, saying it had competitively done similar tasks in the past and that the board could not vet all the judges and magistrates in one year.

The CJ also warned court clerks against engaging in corrupt practices, saying such acts undermined the ongoing Judiciary reforms.

He said the practice was still prevalent but vowed to fight it out of the “new Judiciary.”

“It is still there. The public knows that because they are the ones giving out the money to the clerks,” Dr Mutunga said, adding that the Judiciary he headed would not tolerate such illegal engagements.

Speaking when officially opening a training workshop for newly appointed legal researchers at Utalii Hotel in Nairobi, the CJ vowed to “dismantle” divisions in the Judiciary which were based on ethnicity, nepotism, religion, race, region, gender and generation.

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