‘You’re setting up the country for chaos and anarchy,’ CJ Koome tells Ruto on judiciary attacks

‘You’re setting up the country for chaos and anarchy,’ CJ Koome tells Ruto on judiciary attacks

CJ Martha Koome makes an address when she admitted 224 lawyers to the Roll of Advocates at the Supreme Court on September 12, 2023. | PHOTO: JUDICIARY

Chief Justice Martha Koome has condemned President William Ruto’s administration’s blatant disregard for court orders and his recent onslaught on the judiciary.

Ruto has in recent days mounted a war against the Koome-led judicial arm of government, accusing it of sabotaging his government’s agenda. He has even vowed to disregard court orders he says are motivated by ‘judicial impunity’.

His deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, has also joined him, saying on Sunday he is seeking the removal of Justice Esther Maina from office. He accuses her of tainting his image by unceremoniously declaring his fortune proceeds of crime in a past court ruling.

Addressing a media conference by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Monday, the chief justice said Ruto’s administration is setting up the country for chaos and anarchy.

“It is regrettable that the leadership of the executive and legislature in their recent public declarations have threatened not to obey court orders. These threats and declarations are extremely serious and a monumental assault on the Constitution, the rule of law and the very stability of the nation and can lead to chaos and anarchy in our motherland,” Koome said.

She warned that if the Kenya Kwanza administration’s disregard for court orders is allowed to continue, the country will be plunged into a constitutional crisis.

“The declaration that they will no longer obey Court Orders and the subsequent actual defiance of the orders granted by the courts are untenable and amount to contempt of court. Allowed to continue unabated, we are on the precipice of a constitutional crisis that can lead to untold civil strife. The Judiciary and JSC cannot countenance this and will not be part of it,” she said.

Among the court orders which have sparked anger from President Ruto are the halting of a new social health scheme, a housing levy, the privatisation of 11 government parastatals, the rollout of the Maisha Namba project and the privatisation of the Mombasa and Lamu ports among other projects that the Kenya Kwanza government intends to implement.

According to Koome, however, the decisions of a judge made in the course of the discharge of judicial function cannot be questioned except through review, judicial review or appeal.

“A judge is not liable in an action or suit in respect of anything done or omitted to be done in good faith in the lawful performance of a judicial function,” said the CJ.

Koome noted that corruption or misconduct in the judiciary is addressed with the utmost priority, outlining the grounds and due process for the removal of office of any judiciary official accused of misconduct.

“A judge can be removed from office only on specific grounds, namely the inability to perform the functions of office arising from mental or physical incapacity; a breach of a code of conduct prescribed for judges of the superior courts by an Act of Parliament; bankruptcy; incompetence; or gross misconduct or misbehaviour,” she said.

“Where any or some of these grounds are alleged, the concerned Judge is entitled to due process before an independent tribunal is appointed to inquire into the alleged grounds. Similarly, should the tribunal recommend removal, the judge has the right to challenge the decision of the tribunal through an appeal process to the Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court president revealed that in 2023, JSC received 72 petitions and complaints against judges, 13 of which were dismissed.

“Six judges were asked to respond to the petitions out of which, four petitions were admitted for hearing. Forty-nine are undergoing preliminary evaluation by the commission,” she said.

CJ Koome added that while they have not received any formal complaint from the executive about alleged judicial malpractice, JSC has reached out to President Ruto for a meeting to discuss any issues they have with the judicial arm.


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