8 March 2014

Kenya: Gladys Shollei Sacked Illegally, Court Rules

THE Industrial Court yesterday declared the sacking of former judiciary chief registrar Gladys Shollei illegal. Although judge Mathews Nderi did not rule that Shollei be reinstated, he said she can now claim compensation for wrongful dismissal from employment.

The judge quashed the Judicial Service Commission sacking letter dated October 18, 2013. He said the JSC did not comply with the applicable law in handling disciplinary proceedings against her.

Following the ruling, Shollei might be compensated by taxpayers' money running into millions of shillings. Nderi said it was wrong for Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and former JSC member Ahmendnasir Abullahi to have sat in the committee that sacked Shollei. Ahmendnasir was sitting in the committee as a Law Society of Kenya representative. He has since been replaced by senior counsel Tom Ojienda who defeated him in the society elections last month.

The judge said since Shollei had made allegations against Mutunga and Ahmendnasir, an independent body should have been appointed to look into the her conduct.

"There were 87 wanting allegations against the two and it was not right for them to have sat in the panel that led to the sacking of the petitioner," Nderi said.

He said the allegations against Mutunga and Ahmendnasir are serious and they should have stepped aside in order for a neutral tribunal to investigate Shollei.

"There is a prima facie in the suit. Some members of the JSC were against her (Shollei) as they had no mandate to make any judgement since the panel contravened the rule of natural justice," Nderi said.

He said Shollei is entitled to a redress as her constitutional rights were violated. After her sacking last year, Shollei who was represented by lawyer Donald Kipkorir, moved to court but failed to block the recruitment of a new registrar Anne Atieno.

The suit before High Court judge Mumbi Ngugi challenging her dismissal was then referred to the Industrial Court for determination since the issues raised concerned an employer-employee relationship.

Shollei said the JSC did not give her a fair hearing before her dismissal. She said the body contravened her right to access information by failing to give her specific reasons for her sacking.

Shollei said it was not within JSC purview to lodge investigations against her on grounds of financial impropriety. JSC lawyer Issa Mansour appealed for a stay of the ruling saying they will appeal the decision within 14 days.

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