Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Minister defends CJ against claims

By NATION REPORTER

Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa has defended the new-found independence of the Judiciary under Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

The minister said allegations against the Chief Justice that he was interfering with the work of the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board, were “regrettable”. (READ: Mutunga denies meddling in judges vetting board’s work)

Mr Wamalwa told Parliament that the Law Society of Kenya had “never formally written to the Chief Justice” raising the queries on his alleged partiality, or interference.

“The Judiciary has provided all the support to the Vetting Board, including access to the officers of the board and all the information that the board has requested. The board has no complaint against the CJ,” said Mr Wamalwa.

He said the Judiciary had done “very well so far” and that the coalition government “does not expect that position to change”.

He told MPs that Dr Mutunga would on October 19, address the nation on the state of the Judiciary, and show the country that the Judiciary was a “strong, vibrant and very independent institution”.

The High Court had a week ago stopped the vetting of judges and magistrates until a case challenging the removal of two judges from the Judiciary was determined.

The Vetting Board described High Court judge Mohammed Warsame’s ruling as null, void and unconstitutional.

The board said the courts could not be both players and referees in the vetting of judges and magistrates.

The team, led by Mr Sharad Rao, said its work was protected by the Constitution from any external interference.

“Section 23 (2) of the Sixth Schedule has expressly ousted the courts’ jurisdiction as a way of insulating the vetting process against manipulation by the Judiciary,” Mr Rao said.

On Wednesday, Mr Wamalwa said there was “no crisis” between the Judiciary and the Vetting Board.

He added that the “perceived crisis” would be sorted out through laid down adjudication channels.

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