Serving judicial officers may be overlooked yet again in the hiring of Supreme Court judges after eight legal experts were shortlisted for the five available posts.
In shortlisting 26 out of the 56 applicants for the Supreme Court jobs, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) dropped the names of five serving judges and one former judge.
Among those who failed to make the shortlist were Court of Appeal judge Samuel Bosire and Mr Justice Lee Muthoga, who also unsuccessfully applied for the position of Chief Justice.
Other judges who did not make the shortlist are Anyara Emukule, David Onyancha, Jeanne Gacheche, G.B.M. Kariuki and Scholastica Omondi.
The JSC set a precedent for looking beyond the Judiciary when it rejected all serving judges who applied for the posts of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice and instead settled on pro-reform lawyer Willy Mutunga and Kenya Law Reform Commission vice-chairperson Nancy Baraza.
President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have accepted the JSC nominees and forwarded the names to Parliament for approval and appointment.
Among those shortlisted are 10 women, including six serving judges, former MP Njoki Ndung’u and law lecturer Phoebe Okowa.
Ms Ndung’u is a prominent lawyer and gender activist while Prof Okowa teaches law at the University of London.
She is also a visiting law lecturer at the universities of Lille, France, Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden), Bristol and Oxford.
Another law lecturer, Prof James Odek Otieno, has also been shortlisted.
The six women judges shortlisted for the jobs are Kalpana Rawal, Hannah Okwengu, Mary Ang’awa, Ruth Sitati, Jessie Lesiit and Martha Koome.
Prominent personalities who failed to make the shortlist include former Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission director Aaron Ringera, the agency’s current deputy director Pravin Bowry, former Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission vice-chairperson Betty Murungi and former judge Derek Schofield.
Long serving magistrate Uniter Kidulla and senior State counsel Oriri Onyango also fell by the wayside.
Other notable candidates for the five posts include judges Alnashir Visram, Joseph Nyamu, Jackton Ojwang’, Riaga Omolo, Emanuel O’kubasu, Philip Tunoi, Muga Apondi, Erastus Githinji, Mbogholi Msagha and Philip Waki.
Justices Visram, Nyamu, Omolo, Ang’awa, Msagha, Rawal, Koome and Okwengu were among those interviewed for the posts of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice but were unsuccessful.
The JSC is expected to pick five of the 26 applicants to join the CJ and deputy CJ in the seven-member court. The CJ will be the court’s president and the deputy CJ its vice-president.
The JSC will conduct interviews for the Supreme Court jobs from June 6 to June 14.