Judges yesterday came out to discredit the vetting process that saw four of their colleagues fired from Judiciary.
This came as the Chief Registrar of Judiciary Gladys Shollei announced that the judiciary is going to start afresh, cases which were being handled by Justices Riaga Omollo, Samuel Bosire, Joseph Nyamu and Emmanuel Okubasu.
Shollei requested the vetting board to speed up the hearings of any reviews that the four judges might file so that the Judicial Service Commission can hire other people to fill in the vacancies in the Court of Appeal.She was speaking at a luncheon by Law Society of Kenya held at Hilton, a day after the vetting board released its verdict.
In a speech read on his behalf by Supreme Court Judge Smokin Wanjala, the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga commended the law society for its contribution towards reforming judiciary.
"While I acknowledge that the vetting exercise is a constitutional and statutory response to public demand for integrity, transparency, independence and competence in the Judiciary, it would be remiss of me not to recognise the role that the Law Society of Kenya has played in delivering this process, which has been so long in coming."
He said it was due to the 'loud protestations of the LSK leadership and members' that ultimately gave voice to the public frustration with the 'competence gaps, integrity deficits, weak spine and breaches in efficiency' that had characterized the Judiciary for so long. Mutunga said the momentum for judicial reforms was "unstoppable' despite the challenges and obstacles that lie ahead.
He challenged the Law Society to look at its own members with a view of finding out if and how its members contribute to the perversion of justice in the court corridors.
"Lawyers who are engaged in acts such as these should be banished from your ranks; and this breed of legal practioners should know that they lack the moral authority to demand of us in the Judiciary to reform. They form part of that vile axis that actively resists progress and it is about time they are called out by their peers,"Mutunga said.
He warned lawyers who have a habit of intimidating judges and magistrates to stop as such attempts will be resisted. "I want members of the Bar to know that if your practice of law was built on the foundation of intimidation of judges and magistrates, or on political networks and patronage, this is not your moment."
Several judges who spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity said they were not happy because the vetting exercise was no different from the 2003 'radical surgery' carried our by Justice Aaron Ringera.
The judges said the vetting board ought to have given notice to the four judges affected before it announced its verdict but the fact that this did not happen was not fair. "This exercise is the same as the radical surgery if they do not tell the judges what they are going to do to them before announcing it," said a judge who is based in a station outside Nairobi.
The vetting board's decision had also demoralised the rest of the judges as they did not know what their fate will be. "This place (Milimani court) is like the ruins of Gede with people walking around looking lost," said a female judge.
Another judge who is meant to attend training on commercial law held at Windsor hotel wondered why they were being trained. "I do not understand why we have to attend even this training because we do not know where we are going to apply the things we learn out of the training," he said of the training which is expected to start this morning at the Windsor hotel and ends on Sunday.
Sources in the judiciary also informed The Star that one of the four judges who has been sent packing felt his removal on grounds of his past judgments was an attack on the independence of the judiciary.