Kenya: JSC to Declare CJ Slot Vacant on Monday as Listing Process Begins

16 January 2021

Nairobi — The process of recruiting a new Chief Justice will officially kick off on Monday, January 18.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will formally declare a vacancy in the office of the Chief Justice following the retirement of David Maraga on January 11.

The resolution was made following a commission plenary meeting on Friday.

"This process shall commence by the publication of the Notice Declaring a Vacancy in the Office of the Chief Justice on Monday 18, January 2021," the commission said in an emailed statement.

The commission assured that the search for Maraga's successor will be "governed and conducted in accordance with all the relevant provisions of the constitution and the law".

Maraga, the country's 14th Chief Justice and the second under the 2010 constitution, handed the instruments of power to his deputy, Lady Justice Philomena Mwilu, who is currently serving as the acting Chief Justice.

The Deputy Chief Justice will continue acting until a substantive Chief Justice is installed.

It is still unclear whether Mwilu will contest for the job. No candidates have publicly declared interest for the job yet.

Maraga exited when relations between the Judiciary and the Executive, particularly the presidency and the State Law Office were still strained.

The failure by the Head of State to appoint the 41 Judges who were recommended by the JSC has been a thorny issue that to date continues to anger Maraga.

The 41 judges were recommended by JSC for appointment to the Court of Appeal, the Environment and Land Court and the Employment and Labor Relations Court in July 2019.

President Uhuru Kenyatta declined to act on citing undisclosed integrity issues.

Last year, Maraga also advised President Kenyatta to dissolve Parliament for failing to enact laws on the two-thirds gender rule.

That advice was contested in court and the petition is yet to be dispensed.

Maraga repeatedly accused the Executive of under-funding the Judiciary, attributing the matter to the nullification of Kenyatta's election in 2017, the President at the time vowing to "revisit" the Judiciary.

During an interview with Citizen Television on Thursday Maraga said the Head of State should have been impeached by now for violating provisions of the constitution notably his disregard for court orders.

"If you have failed on a constitutional duty which is placed upon you, the recourse for the president would be impeachment. But that does not happen in jurisdictions like ours and that is why it has persisted up to now," he said.

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