Interviews for next top judge kick off today under strict Covid rules
by Irene Githinji and Alphonse Mung’au
The search for the country’s next Chief Justice commences today. Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Secretary, Anne Amadi yesterday said all is set for the interview of the shortlisted 10 candidates seeking to become the President of the Supreme Court.
Once appointed, the new CJ will replace retired Chief Justice David Maraga who left office on January 10.
Justice Chitembwe Said Juma will be the first candidate to face the interviewing panel at Supreme Court grounds.
Amadi said all JSC Commissioners are part of the interviewing panel, with the Vice Chairperson Olive Mugenda expected to lead the process.
“All the Commissioners will sit in the panel. We have undertaken all the arrangements to ensure we are ready.
In the past, we have undertaken the interviews in boardrooms but in the face of Covid-19 pandemic, we will do it outside here (Supreme Court grounds) just to ensure we are compliant with all the protocols,” she said, in a press conference held at the Supreme Court.
Maraga took over in October 2016, after the first Chief Justice under the new Constitution Dr Willy Mutunga retired.
Other candidates eyeing the position of Chief Justice are Prof Kameri Mbote Annie, Lady Justice Koome Martha Karambu, Justice Marete Njagi, Philip Murgor, Justice Nduma Mathews Nderi, Senior Counsel Fredrick Ngatia, Justice Ouko William Okello, Prof Wekesa Moni and Yano Alice Jepkoech. Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu did not apply for the position.
Amadi said the commission will interview one candidate per day in an exercise expected to take about three to four hours.
Once the interviews are completed within the next 10 days, the panel will have seven days to transmit the results to the President, who will forward the qualifying candidate to Parliament.
The President, subject to the approval of the National Assembly, will then appoint the Chief Justice.
The JSC will also be interviewing candidates to fill the position of Supreme Court Judge, which fell vacant in February 2020.
“After the shortlist, we posted it to the dailies inviting the public to provide information that maybe of interest to the Commission in determining in the selection process.
We received complaints and complements and for the complaints candidates were asked to respond and the Commission will take into account all those issues in carrying out interviews,” she said.
This came as Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA) urged the JSC to get the country the best chief justice who will abide by the law.
In a press statement, the KMJA secretary general Derrick Kuto said now that JSC as JSC embark on the exercise, they now want a person of integrity selected for the post.
Kuto said the next CJ should be a man who will defend the rule of law to the letter and also ‘a man or woman who is not timid’.
“It should be a person who will defend the rule of law and Constitution – a charismatic person who will command the respect of this nation and the International community,” he said.
Kuto said the next CJ need to be a person who will listen to KMJA members before making decisions.
The SG cited an example where Kiambu magistrate Brian Khaemba was suspended without a hearing.
“The KMJA came out guns blazing. At the steps of the Supreme Court, I joined Bryan Khaemba, Lady Justice Hedwig Ongudi, Sinkiyan Tobiko and Godfrey Oduor to issue a hard hitting statement condemning the said utterances by the head of state.
Khaemba has since left the Judiciary while Oduor sadly passed on. Needless to say that KMJA occasionally stood by the CJ to stand up against an Executive that was determined to bully and bring down the judiciary and its workers,” he added.
He urged Kenyans to have faith in the Judiciary and be prepared for the decision that will made by the JSC.
Original Source Website: : https://www.pd.co.ke/news/interviews-for-next-top-judge-kick-off-today-under-strict-covid-rules-71554/