The Nation (Nairobi)

16 May 2011

Kenya: Lawyer in Court Move to Block Jsc Nominees

Nairobi — A Nairobi lawyer has gone to court to block Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice nominees arguing the Judicial Service Commission erred by forwarding only one name each to President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui argues that by presenting only one nominee for the respective positions, the Judicial Service Commission has curtailed any room for the President and Parliament to constitutionally deliberate on the choice on whom to appoint.

He said the JSC failed to disclose the criteria it employed to adjudge the two nominees as the most suited for the posts, and what vision or attributes the JSC wants for the judiciary.

"It has in so doing acted in breach of Article 10 (2)(c) of the Constitution of Kenya, in that there was no transparency after the interviews as to the criteria, the manner of selection and how the selection was arrived at," said Kinyanjui.

The application will be heard on Tuesday.

'Reservations' over nominations

Meanwhile, a group of Christian leaders added their voice to the continued debate on whether the nominees were suitable.

The leaders, speaking under the Kenyan Christian Church Leaders umbrella, said they had "reservations" for the two nominees forwarded to the President and Prime Minister last week.

The Judicial Service Commission picked Dr Willy Mutunga for Chief Justice and Ms Nancy Baraza for Deputy Chief Justice after interviewing a total of 18 candidates who had submitted their names to the JSC for consideration.

The two would have to wait for President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga's nod and Parliament's approval before they are formally appointed to take over the judicial jobs.

However, on Monday the leaders representing several church denominations expressed "our reservations with regard to their (Dr Willy Mutunga and Nancy Baraza) assuming these positions on account of our Christian values and beliefs".

National council of Churches Kenya Secretary general, Rev Peter Karanja, read a joint statement on behalf of the leaders.

After the nominations were made last week there has been on-going debate, though unofficial, about Dr Willy Mutunga's suitability for the position that would among other responsibilities entail Supreme Court presidency. This was generated by the earring he adorns and which he has since clarified was not related to his sexuality but a source of ancestral inspiration.

However, the leaders while buttressing their doubts said any choice for the two posts "must be persons who by their credibility elicit the confidence and trust of all Kenyans."

In clear reference to moral insinuations brought about by Dr Mutunga's jewel, the leaders added that such persons proposed to the top positions in the judiciary "must be people Kenyans can trust to expend their energies in building a stable nation not bedevilled by social strife and immorality."

At the weekend, suspended Higher Education minister, William Ruto became the first public figure to express concerns about the earring worn by the CJ nominee.

The leaders while quoting a biblical scripture 2 Chronicles 19: 5-7, refused to say what sort of reservations and on whom between the two they had, said their Christian values and beliefs would be put on the spot by perceptions so far raised about the nominees.

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