The Star (Nairobi)

8 November 2012

Kenya: Court Rejects LSK Bid to Stop Judges Cases

THE Law Society of Kenya yesterday lost a bid to stop the hearing of cases of the five reinstated judges to the bench by the High Court. The five were reinstated after they challenged a verdict by the Magistrates and Judges Vetting Board declaring them unsuitable to hold office.

Yesterday, five High Court judges dismissed the plea saying LSK has not proved how it will suffer if the cases proceed. They said it is the judges who have been recommended for removal, who were bound to suffer if their cases are delayed. "We find it difficult to be persuaded that the appeal will be rendered nugatory if the stay is not granted," said the judges.

Judges Jonathan Havelock, Pauline Nyamweya, Alfred Mabeya, Joseph Mutava and Eric Ogola said in their ruling that LSK, the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Board and the Attorney General have failed to show how "public interest" -- which they purported to represent -- will be harmed if the cases are not stopped.

The LSK, the Board and the AG are seeking to stop the suits filed by Justices Riaga Omolo, Samuel Bosire, Emmanuel O'Kubasu, Joseph Nyamu and Jeanne Gacheche pending an appeal they have filed at the Court of Appeal.

They say the High Court has no jurisdiction to supervise the vetting board. The lawyers' body has maintained that the ruling will set a bad precedent and ought to be overturned.

On its part, the Sharad Rao board plans to go to the Supreme Court to challenge the verdict. Through lawyer Ekuru Aukot, the board says the confusion over whether the High Court can supervise the board should be cleared.

The board supported the application for the halting of the case it intendeds to file is arguable since the issue was a matter of interpretation and whether Section 23(2) of the sixth schedule, is shielded against interference from the courts.

The Board says that an appellate decision on the conflict will put to a rest the matter. There were light moments at the Milimani law courts as young lawyers in solidarity with a call by the LSK to wear yellow ribbons to protest against alleged interference against the vetting exercise were dismissed by their senior colleagues.

The senior lawyers termed the move as childish and refused to wear the ribbons. Another application seeking to stop the LSK from commenting on the cases until they are determined will be heard tomorrow.

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