In A Theory of Justice, John Rawls views justice as being distinct and more essential than benevolence, charity, mercy, generosity and compassion.
Justice must be seen and appreciated beyond the philosophy of its construction, to include the procedure that is invited by law. No doubt, it is controversial as it seeks to arrive at what, conventionally, must constitute just in the eyes of all.
A judge or magistrate listening, adjudicating and concluding to convict or acquit is not a gesture of justice. Justice is a process and outcome anchored on strict principles of humanity, which manifest as fairness and equal opportunity to be served by instruments of law and social order.
Judicial officers’ conduct in private is open to scrutiny. Their matters must epitomise judicial integrity because the contrary is tantamount to public disgrace. They are treated to a higher accountability threshold above the ordinariness associated with other public servants.
The court should be as sacred outside as inside. In 2015, British judges Timothy Bowles, Warren Grant and Peter Bullock were removed from practice for watching pornography on office computers.
The story of Justice Sankale ole Kantai, in which he was accused of helping a murder suspect in a criminal case, reminds us of a past where judges are contradictory presentations of the institutional values they serve.
Allegations against judicial officers are not new in Kenya. In 2016, Justice Phillip Tunoi was accused of receiving Sh200 million to rule in favour of former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero in an election petition.
Besides, former Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal was accused of running shell companies registered in notorious Caribbean tax haven known for drug dealing. Her predecessor, Justice Nancy Baraza, was in 2012 accused of inappropriate use of her gun.
The Judiciary shouldn’t make headlines for wrong reasons, as most overshadow significant milestones, such as the bail-bond policy and bill, besides formulation of the rules to operationalise the Small Claims Court and comprehensive report on the Children Act reforms.
It is difficult to pay tribute to the many achievements and reforms by the Judiciary in the conspicuous presence of doubtful decisions. It is as though this country condones persistent occupational fraud in the Judiciary. Internal fraud is the use of one’s occupation for personal enrichment through deliberate misapplication of the organisation’s assets.
Black’s Law Dictionary contextualises fraud as a knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment.
Methinks a Judiciary that doesn’t exude confidence in the eyes of its clientele is a step short of a dumpsite. Judges and magistrates who fall to the pressure of anything, including the public, predispose the institution to indignity. The legal profession is enshrined in the principles of natural justice, for which exists non-negotiable fidelity to ethics.
The Judiciary is independent; therefore, these concerns lie squarely at the desk of the Chief Justice. The public demands that CJ David Maraga weed out bad characters to grow citizens’ faith in the judicial system. Mr Maraga, faith is expensive; please make it affordable!
Mr Mukoya is the executive director, Legal Resources Foundation Trust. [email protected]