Lawyers to Uhuru: You’ve no option but to appoint judges

Justice David Maraga (left) and President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) in a past function: Lawyers view the president's refusal to appoint new judges as an extension of the war against the Judiciary by the Executive and the Legislative arms of the government.

Senior lawyers yesterday said President Uhuru Kenyatta’s failure to appoint 41 new judges capped a worrying trend to undermine the independence of the Judiciary, coming days after its budget was slashed drastically.

The President told the High Court on Tuesday that he did not gazette the new judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) because some of them had integrity issues and it would be irresponsible of him to appoint tainted individuals to the positions that have security of tenure.However, top lawyers, while reacting to an exclusive story by The Standard detailing the President’s reservations, argued Uhuru’s action was an affront to the independence of the Judiciary because it interfered with the mandate of JSC, a constitutional body established to run affairs of Judiciary.They drew a pattern to the systematic reduction of Judiciary’s budget which was slashed by half last year and this year by nearly a third- as well as past actions by top State officers to defy court orders.

The lawyers insisted any adverse information should have been presented to JSC during the interviews when submissions from the public as well as vetting reports from State agencies including Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Kenya Revenue Authority, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and secret security briefings are considered.

Affront on Judiciary

They said the President does not have mandate to review the names from JSC and the only option available is to appoint them and file complaint(s) for their removal before the commission.