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Chief Justice Gicheru calls it a day

Friday February 25 2011

Laban Walloga | Nation Chief Justice Evan Gicheru has called it quits.

Laban Walloga | Nation Chief Justice Evan Gicheru has called it quits. 

By JILLO KADIDA [email protected] and Dave Opiyo [email protected]

Kenya’s top judge has made his final ruling — he is going home.

Mr Justice Evan Gicheru made his decision to quit the judiciary on Friday, just a day to his exit.

He had an option of sitting in the court of appeal after being vetted but he opted to go home.

Mr Justice Gicheru’s term as CJ ends on Sunday.

Justice Gicheru was expected to carry out one of his last official duties on Friday by chairing a Judicial Service Commission meeting but he did not turn up.

On Thursday, he attended the opening of the new Millimani Courthouse, his last public function as CJ.

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After the function, he said he was yet to make a decision on his retirement.

“I will decide on whether to leave or not later. I will not make the decision alone,” he had said.

Justice Gicheru was appointed head of the judiciary in 2003 at a time when it was in the spotlight, with calls for major reforms.

In the same year he presided over a team that recommended a purge in the judiciary.

Among the prominent case he handled in his last days in office is one challenging President Kibaki’s nominations to key justice and budget office jobs.

He appointed a three-judge bench to hear the matter.

But as Justice Gicheru bows out, questions abound on who will handle some of his key responsibilities that cannot be delegated as no one has been named to replace him following President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s failure to agree on the nomination of Justice Alnashir Visram.

Some observers have said there will be no vacuum if a new CJ is not appointed while others say that for political reasons, it is important that the office be filled immediately.

The new constitution places on the shoulders of the CJ certain specific duties which can only be carried out by him alone.

These include making the rules on the enforcement of the Bill of Rights as outlined in article 22(3) of the new constitution.

The CJ is also required to swear in the President and his deputy, as well as appointing a tribunal for the removal of the two if they became incapacitated.

As president of the Supreme Court and chairperson of the JSC, the Chief Justice is also required to advise the Head of State to dissolve Parliament if it fails to enact statutes required for the full implementation of the new laws within the times frames set out in the Fifth Schedule.