Supreme Court judge calls for constitutional amendment

A Supreme Court Judge has called for amendment of the Constitution to prolong timeliness to hear and determine Presidential Petitions.

Justice Mohammed Ibrahim said that the constitutionally required 14-day period is too short to comprehensively and exhaustively hear and judicially determine a Presidential Partition.

The Supreme Court Judge said that an amendment of Article 140(2) of the Constitution would provide the court with more time to hear Presidential Petitions synonymous to neighbouring Uganda and Ghana.

He admitted that Kenyans would have more readily internalized and embraced the Judgment on the Presidential Petition had the Supreme Court Judges read reasons  of their ruling in open court.

“We may have broken the law as Civil Procedure Code provides that Judgments and Rulings should be read and signed by Judges in open court,” Justice Ibrahim said.

The Supreme Court Judge reiterated that strict constitutional timelines informed their move.

The Supreme Court Judge was responding to questions posed to him by lawyers from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda during a plenary session of an ongoing East Africa Law Society regional conference on elections and constitutional trends in Africa at Serena Beach Hotel and Spa in Mombasa County.

The theme of the two day Conference that has also attracted Judges and senior election officials from East Africa is Emerging Electoral and Constitutional Trends in East Africa: Are We at Crossroads?” Justice Ibrahim said that their decision was unanimous arguing that the Supreme Court debated their reasons and agreed.

“The timeliness to hear Presidential Petitions should be amended from 14-days to between 45 and 65 days…the current 14 days is too little,” Justice Ibrahim said.

The Supreme Court is the court only with original and exclusive jurisdiction over disputes in Presidential Elections.

“We (Supreme Court Judges) would have read the Judgment of the Presidential Petition in open court and considered the 839-page affidavit filed by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga but we had time constrains,” Justice Ibrahim said.

He regretted that the ruling had grammatical and typographical errors. “We regret the editorial errors but insist that they did not judicially interfere with the substance of the ruling,” Justice Ibrahim said.

The Supreme Court Judge reiterated that they were unanimous in their decision after burning the midnight oil.

“The Constitution provides that we had to give a ruling within the strict timeline of 14-days, which explains why the full Judgment was delivered afterwards,” Justice Ibrahim explained.

Article 140(2) of the Constitution provides that the Supreme Court hears and determines Presidential Petitions within 14 days.