The Judicial Service Commission
Members of the Judicial Service Commission of Kenya include Mr. Ahmednasir Abdullahi, a nominee of the Law Society of Kenya. Prof. Christine Kevin Abungu Mango and Bishop Antony Muheria nominated to represent the public (The law demands that two slots in the JSC be filled by people who are not lawyers). Other members are High Court Judge Isaac Lenaola and Emily Ominde who were nominated by the Judges and Magistrates Association to represent the Bench. The Attorney General and the Chief Justice are members of this commission. However, Bishop Muheria resigned in April 2011 citing personal reasons as the cause of his resignation.
The eight members of the Judicial Service Commission were appointed and subsequently sworn in on 11th January 2011.
The Judicial Service Commission will recommend to the President, persons for appointment as judges. It will also be responsible for reviewing and making recommendations on the conditions of service for judges and judicial officers and the staff of the Judiciary as well establish the National Council of the Administration of Justice among other functions.
Being a Constitutional Commission, the functions of the JSC are specifically set out in Article 172 and include the following; Art. 172(1)(a): The Judicial Service Commission shall promote and facilitate the independence and accountability of the judiciary and the efficient, effective and transparent administration of justice and shall recommend to the President persons for appointment as judges.
Subsequently, the JSC was constituted through the enactment on 22nd March 2011 of The Judicial Service Act. The JSC proceeded to advertise vacancies for the positions of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice, received applications, prepared a short-list, published a schedule of interviews and conducted public interviews, aired on television, for the positions. The JSC nominated Mr. Justice Willy Munywoki Mutunga as the Chief Justice who was appointed officially on June 16, 2011 with Ms. Nancy Baraza as the Deputy Chief Justice.
The Judicial Service Act 2011 which establishes the JSC sets out a long and elaborate procedure for the appointment of Judges in its First Schedule (pursuant to Section 30 thereof). The process and procedure are set out herein for ease of reference; (a) Sections 3-5: Notice of vacancies; submission of applications; and confidentiality of materials. (b) Sections 6-9: Initial review for completeness and compliance with Constitutional and Statutory requirements; background reference checks; background investigation and vetting; and publication of the names of applicants. (c) Sections 10-12: Scheduling of interviews; disclosure of information by Members; and maintaining confidentiality of sources of information upon which questions are asked. (d) Sections 13-14; Criteria for evaluation of qualifications; and nomination of qualified applicants. (e) Sections 15-20: Notification of nominations; inability of the JSC to reconsider its nominees other than in the case of death, incapacity or withdrawal of a nominee; preservation of nominations where procedural irregularities do not occasion a miscarriage of justice; provision for offences and penalties; extension of time; and power of the JSC to regulate its own procedure.
For the first time in Kenya’s history, appointment to key public offices is through a public process that makes generous allowance for direct and indirect public participation.
The Supreme Court of Kenya
- The Chief Justice who shall be the president of the court.
- The Deputy Chief Justice who shall Deputize the Chief Justice and Be the Vice-president of the court and;
- Five other Judges
The Supreme Court shall be the highest court on the land. Under Article 163 (1) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, there is established the Supreme Court which consists of:
The Supreme Court shall be properly constituted for the purpose of its proceedings. It is composed of 5 judges and shall have exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and disputes relating to the election to the office of the president. Appeals shall lie from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court as of right in any case involving the interpretation or application of this constitution and in any other case which supreme or the Court of Appeal certifies that a matter of general public importance is involved.
Five judges were nominated for the positions of Supreme Court Judge. They are: Justices Philip Tunoi, Jackton Boma Ojwang’, Mohamed Ibrahim, Dr. Smokin Wanjala and Ms Njoki Ndung’u.