Africa: CJ Koome to Join Judges From UK, India and South Africa to Discuss Judiciary Independence, Integrity

Nairobi — Kenya's Chief Justice Martha Koome will on Wednesday join sitting and former Supreme Court Judges from Kenya, South Africa, the UK and India to discuss the independence and integrity of the Judiciary.

The roundtable webinar is being hosted by the Justice K. T. Desai Memorial Committee, with the Bombay Bar Association. It has been convened by Justice Sujata Manohar, a former Supreme Court of India Judge.

Justice Koome will be joined by fellow Supreme Court of Kenya Judge Isaac Lenaola, and Lady Justice Mary Arden of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

Others are Justice B.N. Srikrishna, a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India and Justice Albie Sachs a former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

Also in attendance will be Sharad Rao, Chairman of the Judges & Magistrate Vetting Board in Kenya, Jan van Zyl Smit, from the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in London and Arvind Datar, senior advocate in India.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of media reports in Kenya on the independence of the Judiciary vis-a-vis the oversight role of Parliament.

CJ Koome in recent weeks wrote to the Speakers of the Houses of Parliament acknowledging the oversight role of Parliament over public institutions.

She sought a meeting with the Speakers of the National Assembly and Senate to discuss overlapping and duplicating summons from different committees of the same House, and also between the two Houses of Parliament to discuss the same issues.

"It is our humble view that parliamentary oversight must be performed strictly within the four corners of the law, and, equally importantly, in a manner that permits the various public institutions to perform their ordinary functions," CJ Koome stressed.

In one instance, the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary was expected to appear before three different committees of the National Assembly and Senate on the same day, July 8, 2020.

CJ Koome made it clear she was keen to explore constructive engagement with both Houses of Parliament, particularly on the accountability of the Judiciary, "all within the permissible bounds of our respective constitutional mandates."

"Against this backdrop, I recommend that we hold a joint consultative forum with the leadership of the Houses and the various committees as a matter of priority so that these issues can be resolved at the earliest opportunity," she concluded in her letter.

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