About 20 judges were yesterday spared vetting pending further orders of the High Court.
The vetting process, which has so far seen at least seven judges axed from the Judiciary, was stopped by a majority decision of a three-judge bench. The decision by Justices Mohammed Warsame and George Odunga may have far-reaching consequences if the petition by a lobby group in Eldoret sails through.
If the petition is successful, the proceedings and determinations of the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Board, including recommending the removal of judges, may be reversed. The two judges said in the ruling that after considering all the issues raised in the petition and the submissions by several lawyers, the matters raised need further inquiry.
"The court will eventually examine all the contours and boundaries of section 23 of the sixth schedule and the entire Vetting Act. We cannot at this stage say that the matters raised by the petitioners are small and or trifling but are matters open to judicial interpretation and scrutiny," said the Judges.
Their colleague, Justice G.K. Kimondo, differed saying that the timeline given to the Vetting Board is strict and the process needs not be stopped. "There is also public interest . I am also cognizant that the vetting process is in a strict timetable," said Justice Kimondo. In the petition, The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Richard Omanyala and Bishop Francis Ranogwa sought temporary orders stopping the proceedings of the board until their petition is determined.
The group says since the mandate of the board expired on May 23, the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Act has never been amended to extend the time. Parliament only amended Section 2(2) of the Act, which does not extend the time set out in Section 22(1). "All decisions made by the board after expiry of its mandate on May 23 and particularly the decision after July 12 including those on Ibrahim and Nambuye are illegal, null and void," the petitioners say.