Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga has made far-reaching changes in Kenya’s bench even as concerns increase of Â return of old corruption in the judiciary.
Over the weekend, former constitutional advisor to Prime Minister Raila Odinga accused the CJ of sitting on top of a ‘dysfunctional institution’.
“To effectively fight corruption, we cannot blindly submit to the confused maze that Chief Justice Willy Mutunga presides over at the judiciary. Mutunga’s court has become one of the worst we have had since independence. It is anticipated and stuck in a time warp, opaque, insular, unresponsive, unaccountable, lethargic, incompetent, disorganized, confused and corrupt. The Supreme Court that was supposed to lead the transformation process has morphed into a dysfunctional institution, which keeps churning out half-baked, illogical and contradictory opinions that defy all known jurisprudential standards in the world”
Judges whose conduct in the Judiciary was questioned by the vetting board have been left out in the reorganisation of the Bench announced by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.
The seven who have been left out were declared unsuitable to continue holding office by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board over their conduct, which the board said had brought disrepute to the Judiciary.
They remain judges but will not be allocated any duties pending the outcome of the challenges they have mounted against the findings by the Sharad Rao-led vetting team.
They are Justices Mary Angâ€™awa, Jeanne Gacheche, Nicholas Ombija, Muga Apondi, Abida Aroni, Grace Nzioka and Joseph Mutava.
Justices Angâ€™awa, Gacheche, Apondi, Aroni and Nzioka moved to the High Court challenging the decision. The High Court ruled that they should not be relieved off their duties pending the hearing and determination of their suits. The cases are still pending.
Justice Ombija was also found unsuitable by the board but his application for a review was upheld with the vetting board recommending that he be vetted afresh.
Justice Mutava was, however, suspended by the Judicial Service Commission after questions were raised over the manner in which he handled cases involving businessman Kamlesh Pattni.
He successfully contested the decision at the High Court and got reinstated but the Judicial Service Commission appealed at the Court of Appeal with the decision still pending.
‘IMPROVE SERVICE DELIVERY’
The transfers are contained in a memo by Dr Mutunga in his first major changes of judges of the High Court and Industrial Court in the last three years.
â€œThere is a need to re-organise the leadership and composition of various stations to improve service delivery and management. In making the new postings, I have considered the transfer policy, leadership imperatives, case log data and court infrastructures,â€ said Dr Mutunga.
Justice Richard Mwongo will retain his position as the High Court Principle Judge but at the same time will work under Justice Fred Ochieng, who will preside over the commercial division at the Milimani High Court.
Others in the commercial division are Justices Eric Ogola, Francis Gikonyo, Jacqueline Kamau and Shaik Mohammed, who replaces Justice Jonathan Havelock.
Justice Havelock has been moved to the Judiciary Training Institute where he will work under the directorship of Justice Joel Ngugi.
The criminal division will be the most affected with many criminal trials likely to start afresh after four of the five judges in the division were transferred.
The division will now be headed by Justice Jessie Lesiit. Others in the division are Lady Justices Grace Ngenye, Roseline Korir, Stella Mutuku and Justice Luka Kimaru.
Justice Mbogholi Msagha, who previously headed the criminal division, will now preside over the civil division. He will have Justices David Onyancha, Joseph Sergon, Alfred Mabeya and Roselyn Aburuli working under him.
The family division will now have five judges, up from the previous three. It will be headed by Justice Aggrey Muchelule with Justices Lydia Achode, William Musyoka, Rose Ougo and Margaret Muigai completing the division.
Lady Justice Pauline Nyamweya has retained her position as head of Lands and Environment Division where she will have Justices John Mutungi, Nyambura Gacheru, Mary Gitungi and Joseph Onguto.
Nairobiâ€™s Industrial Court will be presided over by Justice Nduma Nderi with Justices Monica Mbaru, Hellen Wasilwa, Nelson Abwotha, Linet Ndolo and Nzioki wa Makau completing the work force.
Justices Weldon Korir and George Odunga have been retained at the Judicial Review Division while Justice Isaac Lenaola will continue presiding over the Constitutional and Human Rights Division with Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi.
Mombasa High Court will have seven judges, with one serving at the Lands Division and two at the Industrial Court. Justice Mathew Emukule will serve as the resident judge. Others are Justices Mary Kasango, Edward Muriithi, Martin Muya, Ann Abongo, James Rika and Onesmus Makau.
Justice Hillary Chemitei will now be the resident judge in Kisumu with Justices Esther Maina, Anthony Kaniaru and Maureen Onyango, who will preside over the Industrial Court in Kisumu.
Nakuru will have Lady Justice Maureen Odero as the resident judge with Justices Abigail Mshila, Janet Mulwa, Munayo Sila and Justice Radido working in the station.
Nyeri will have Justice Jairus Ngaa as the resident judge with Justices Byrum Ongaya at the Industrial Court and Njoki Waithaka at the Lands Court.
Three judges will serve in Eldoret with Justice George Kimondo heading the station. Others will be Justices Cecilia Githua and Ombwayo Otengo.
Kakamega and Kisii will also have three judges with Justices Ruth Sitati, Enock Chacha Mwita and Anthony Charo in Kakamega while Kisii will have Justices Joseph Karanja, Samson Okongâ€™o and Crispin Nagila.
Justices Hellen Omondi and Samuel Mukunya will be based in Bungoma while Justices Francis Tuiyot and Stephen Kibunja will serve in Busia High Court.
Justices Florence Muchemi and Justus Bwonwonga will work in Embu, Justices George Dulu (Garissa), David Majanja (Homabay), Boaz Olao and Robert Limo (Kerugoya), Hedwig Ongâ€™udi and Njagi Marete (Kericho), while Narok and Naivasha will have Justice Christine Meoli.
Kitale will have Justices James Wakiage and Elijah Obaga, Machakos Lilian Mutende, Beatrice Thuranira and Charles Kariuki. Justices Said Chitembe and Oscar Angote will be based in Malindi.
Meru will be served by Judges Roseline Wendoh, Aaron Makau and Peter Njoroge while Justice Hatari Waweru will be posted to Murangâ€™a High Court.
The new postings will take effect from September 1.
Additional Reports from Daily Nation