A New Dawn For The Judiciary
The last month the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) become a beehive of activities as they engaged heavyweight legal minds including judges and scholars in interviews that would see the reconstruction of the Supreme Court of Kenya. The reconstruction was needed because of vacancies that had been occasioned by the retirement of the Chief Justice, Dr Willy Mutunga. In addition, Dr. Mutunga's Deputy, Kalpana Rawal and the third in seniority, Judge Philip Tunoi, had been technically removed from office following a refusal by the Supreme Court majority sitting not to adjudicate on their retirement age cases, thus rendering the Court of Appeal's decision final. The Court of Appeal had ruled that the retirement age of Judges is at 70 years. The question on retirement still remains alive, but this will be determined by a different bench in future.
The constitution requires the Supreme Court judges to be seven. However, the Court is still properly constituted for the purposes of its proceedings if it is composed of five judges.
Upon conclusion, Justice Maraga stood out as the best candidate for Chief Justice based on his integrity, experience in both the legal private practice and on the bench, good temperament, his independence and ability to co-ordinate Judiciary affairs.
Other appointees include Justice Philomena Mwilu, as the Deputy Chief Justice and Justice Isaac Lenaola.
The appointments come at a time when the judiciary has received a backlash and lost public confidence due to corruption, a plague widely entrenched in many State Institutions.
The Maraga led bench has also faced sharp criticisms on failing to meet the two-thirds gender principle in the appointment of the judges, A Constitutional requirement for all public appointments. The apex leaders have now pledged to set systems in place that will end corruption and work towards regaining public trust in the Judiciary.