HER LEGACY AT STAKE

Koome must guard against interference of judicial processes

The tag subservience is what the Judiciary fought long and hard and a return to such an experience will be disastrous

In Summary

• In any event, the JSC accords anyone with a grouse against any candidate a chance to present written or oral memoranda. Moreover, the files of the interviewees must be reviewed by the intelligence.

• If all these avenues don't help weed out the unmerited candidates, then only the courts can stop their confirmation after a judicial process is adjudged unfit.

Justice Martha Koome before the JSC for the interview for the position of Chief Justice.
Justice Martha Koome before the JSC for the interview for the position of Chief Justice.
Image: CHARLENE MALWA

During the Judicial Service Commission's interview in search of a new chief justice, one question kept recurring: How would the interviewees deal with the President's refusal to appoint the 41 (now 38) judges approved by the JSC?

I'll not go back to how the other candidates, who didn't clinch the position handled it, but will cast a spotlight on the newly inaugurated Chief Justice Martha Koome.

While she was optimistic that she would get the President to act on the list forwarded to him to help ease the pressure and backlog of cases, the answer, on close interrogation, means if she follows through with the explanation she gave, will see the Judiciary kowtow or accede to the dictates of the other arms of government.

The tag subservience is what the Judiciary fought long and hard. A return to such an experience will be disastrous.

First, the question was misdirected. To those it was posed to, answering it the way they did meant they were unwittingly accepting the Executive knack for arm-twisting them, thus shifting the onus to obey clear constitutional dictates elsewhere, yet the omission lies squarely with the Executive.

The Constitution never gave the President a choice to make at the judges' appointment process at the tail end. The President is represented by the Attorney General at the JSC and appoints almost three members either directly or indirectly.

In any event, the JSC accords anyone with a grouse against any candidate a chance to present written or oral memoranda. Moreover, the files of the interviewees must be reviewed by the intelligence.

If all these avenues don't help weed out the unmerited candidates, then only the courts can stop their confirmation after a judicial process is adjudged unfit.

Anything else at the end of this exercise can only be termed a witch-hunt and a gross violation of the Constitution, especially on leadership and integrity.

The Executive must never be allowed to play ping pong with the appointments such as these. At one time the President refuses to receive one name and the next time he does so with glee and alacrity.

Other arms of government have reduced court orders to a mere invitation—just papers obeyed at their whims and convenience.

How Koome deals with headstrong arms of government and how she will robustly guard against their inclination to interfere with judicial processes, coupled with cleaning the rot within the Judiciary itself, will define her legacy.

 

The writer is an economic and political analyst

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris