NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 9 – Former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of breeding impunity over his failure to appoint six judges listed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) saying his decision is driven more by personal pique rather than principle.
On June 3, President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed 34 out 41 judges nominated by JSC for appointment to superior courts declining the nomination of Justices Aggrey Muchelule, George Odunga, Weldon Korir and Prof Joel Ngugi who were to join the Court of Appeal. No reasons were given.
He appointed the other 34 judges two years after their nomination and following an outcry by Judiciary stakeholders led by former CJ David Maraga and civil society who have decried frustrations by the executive.
The appointments came barely a month after the assumption of office by CJ Martha Koome.
Mutunga said the prolonged appointment of the judges points to “power that is egregious, reckless and insensitive.”
In what he termed as intentional, persistent and defiant determination to overrun the country’s constitutional order, Mutunga said the president has set a bad trend of a “dangerous dalliance with impunity.”
He said the standoff between the executive and the Judiciary had lowered the esteem of the presidential office, undermined the rule of law, and the public confidence in the administration of justice.
“State offices are not the personal property of any individual or office- and all Kenyans have a right to seek to serve in the manner prescribed by law.No individual or authority can arbitrarily renounce withdraw or abrogate this right,” the former CJ said.
Mutunga faulted Kenyatta for failing to raise concerns or allegations on any shortlisted candidates to the hiring panel during the recruitment process “leaving JSC with no option but to recommend their appointment.”
“The constitution is clear on the mechanisms for raising any issue the President or any other person may have against a sitting judge or judicial officer at whatever level. The president has taken two years without presenting any evidence to the commission,” he asserted.
According to the former CJ, the President subjected the nominees to untold suffering and called into question the integrity of serving judges and judicial officers without any due process.
Mutunga advised the President to resist the temptation of being “garlanded in the pettiness of performing power at the expense of national good and Kenya’s constitutional democracy.”
“It is urgent that the President immediately appoints the six judges, many of whom are exceptional because that’s what fairness, common decency, the rule of law, and the Constitution require,” he added.
“You bear a burden to do the right thing for Kenya’s Constitution, her institutions, and the general public. Discharge this burden, simply do the right thing,” he told Kenyatta.