Lawyers to fight changes to judicial service act

Tuesday January 5 2016

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The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) is expected to file a case Tuesday challenging the recent constitutional amendments that give the President powers to recruit top judges and police officers.

The society has appointed lawyers Tom Ojienda, Nzamba Kitonga, Michael Muchemi and Peter Wanyama to file the case.

The lawyers were on Monday busy drafting the application that singles out the changes to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Act, which require the commission to give the President three nominees for the post of the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ).

LSK Chief Executive Officer Apollo Mboya told the Nation all is set ahead of the case.

On Sunday, LSK said the changes are an affront to the independence of the judiciary. Chairman Erick Mutua said the changes grant to the executive powers over the appointment of the CJ and the deputy.

“That law is not only unconstitutional but greatly undermines the independence of the judiciary. The fact that a law with such far-reaching consequences was passed through an omnibus miscellaneous amendment deprives the public of their right of participation. LSK will therefore challenge it in court,” said Mr Mutua.

The changes come as the Judiciary plans to appoint a new CJ as the current officer holder Dr Willy Mutunga is set to retire in June when he attains the age of 70 years.

Deputy CJ Kalpana Rawal who is challenging her retirement in court turns 70 on January 15, this year, which means a new Deputy CJ should be in office on January 16.

In 2011, the JSC presented the President with only one name but the JSC Act has now been amended requiring the commission to forward three names.