Appellate Court judge Kalpana Rawal edged closer to taking over as Deputy Chief Justice after Parliament adopted a report recommending she be given the job.
The House adopted the report by the Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, which had urged MPs to approve Lady Justice Rawal’s appointment to the position. The post has remained vacant since the exit of Ms Nancy Baraza in October last year.
Her name will now be sent to President Uhuru Kenyatta for formal appointment.
Ms Baraza resigned following recommendations by a tribunal set up to inquire into her suitability to serve in the office. The tribunal recommended her sacking last August after finding that her handling of a security guard during a confrontation at the Village Market, Nairobi, amounted to gross misconduct and misbehaviour.
She moved to the Supreme Court to challenge the tribunal’s decision but later dropped the bid and resigned from the position.
Yesterday, Mr Samuel Chepkonga, who chairs the committee, also recommended that a transitional plan be put in place to provide a seamless transition, now that Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and his deputy will retire at the same time. He said: “Despite the fact that she has only three years to her retirement … we feel that being an ‘insider’ of the Judiciary with the CJ (Dr Mutunga) as an ‘outsider’, that blend would be of beneficial to the judicial transformation.”
Mr Chepkonga said even as they recommended that she gets the job, the committee raised queries over how she handled some of the “controversial” cases that came before her.
Lady Justice Rawal, for instance, presided over the case of the murder of university don Odhiambo Mbai and the commission of inquiry into the helicopter crash that killed former Internal Security minister George Saitoti.