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Judicial officers must have day in court too

Friday September 13 2019

EDITORIAL
By EDITORIAL
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The contestation between the Judiciary and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions over the trying of judges and magistrates presents a unique challenge and threatens to undermine the administration of justice.

Since both institutions work for a common cause, they must find a formula of addressing their differences without a public spat.

At present, the two institutions are embroiled in a tussle over the trial of sitting judicial officers.

The latest case involves Mombasa Principal Magistrate Edgar Kagoni implicated in the disappearance of exhibits in a narcotic suit.

Since the matter is actively under judicial arbitration in court, it cannot be canvassed outside those confines.

A more high-profile matter revolved around Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, on whom the DPP sought to press criminal charges.

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But the case was terminated by the court, prompting the prosecution to cry foul and chastise the Judiciary as allegedly blocking the trial of its members.

RULE OF LAW

Everybody is equal before the law, and therefore deserves equal treatment. Anybody, irrespective of station in life, is liable for prosecution in case of transgression.

Similarly, an accused is entitled to fair trial. No individual or institution is above the law.

The Constitution created an independent Judiciary with the express objective of insulating it from extraneous influences and empowered it to administer justice without fear or favour.

This is vital for good governance and enjoyment of rights. Concomitant to that, it established the Judicial Service Commission, primed to promote the independence and accountability of the Judiciary.

These legal fortifications have created a fairly strong and independent Judiciary but that has also elicited a backlash.

Other institutions, such as the Executive and Parliament, are frightened by the increased powers, independence and clout enjoyed by the Judiciary.

ACCOUNTABILITY

That is hardly surprising. We are coming from a past where the Executive had its way and determined what the other arms of government did. Which was a misnomer.

Question abound, however, when some individuals get their way easily because of the positions they occupy.

It has particularly been observed that judicial officers implicated in graft or other crimes have a way of wriggling out, presumably because of professional fraternal relations.

Judicial officers accused of wrongdoing should have their day in court as long as due process is followed.

Also, it is incumbent on the DPP to conduct thorough investigations and present concrete evidence to sustain prosecution instead of sheer lamentations.

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