Chief Justice David Maraga has called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to end the standoff over the appointment of 41 new judges citing a biting shortage of judicial officers to handle case backlog.
Speaking on Monday in Nairobi, CJ Maraga told President Kenyatta that he has no constitutional powers to second-guess the list of judges forwarded to him for appointment by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
The CJ said that it was no longer tenable for the President to continue refusing to obey two court orders complying him to appoint the judges to their respective positions.
“The court ruled that the President cannot decide to cherry pick from the names of nominees. He has no residual judicial power to question or reject the names…The legal position is that the President is obliged by the two valid court orders to appoint the 41 judges…The President’s disregard of the court orders does not bode well,” said CJ Maraga.
The CJ also complained about an emergent trend by the government to refuse to obey court orders, including delaying payment of decrees for victims of accidents caused by government vehicles.
“In addition to these two specific orders, the Executive consistently disregards court orders. Recently, against court orders, the government evicted squatters in Kariobangi… The government has refused to order court decrees, many of them on the compensation of road accident victims caused by government vehicles,” said Maraga.
Further, Maraga accused the national government’s accounting officers of adopting a contemptuous attitude when directed to honour court decrees.
Last year, President Kenyatta defended his decision not to gazette the names of 41 judges picked by the JSC, saying that some of them have serious integrity issues.
However, CJ Maraga on Monday claimed that the President did not care to share what grievances he had against the judges during the interviews and thereafter.
As such, Maraga argued the Head of State should forthwith appoint the judges without any further delays, noting that the Judiciary is at a crisis over the shortage of judges.
Maraga said the Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki only filed a notice of appeal and has never bothered to obtain a stay of execution of any of the two court orders.
“Your Excellency, you know I have respect for you as our President. You know I have sought to get an appointment to discuss these matters with you. It would be a dereliction of my duty if I don’t raise Wanjiku’s agonies,” said Maraga in justification of the press conference to plead with the President to uphold the rule of the law.