JSC expected to declare office of Chief Justice vacant

Written By: Marie Yambo/Kevin Wachira

Retired Chief Justice David Maraga

The Judicial Service Commission is Monday expected to publish a notice to declare the office of the Chief Justice vacant, setting the stage for interested candidates to begin the application process.  

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Once the interviews are conducted the commission is expected to forward the name of the successful candidate to parliament for approval before formal appointment by the president. 

The constitution under article 167 (2)  stipulates the Chief Justice shall hold office for a maximum of 10 years or until retirement  age of 70 or opt for early retirement at 65 years. 

The qualifications for appointment as Chief Justice include at least 15 years experience as a superior court judge or as a distinguished academic, judicial officer, legal practitioner or such experience in a relevant legal field.  

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The office fell vacant after the retirement of Chief Justice David Maraga after a ten year tenure. 

He was the 14th Chief Justice of Kenya, but the third under the promulgated 2010 constitution.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Service Commission may soon have powers to investigate, discipline and even reprimand judges.

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The constitution of Kenya amendment bill 2020 proposes amendment to article 172 to provide a mechanism by which the JSC can discipline judicial officers including judges.

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Article 172 of the constitution empowers the Judicial Service Commission to recommend to the President persons for appointment as judges, review and make recommendations on the conditions of service of judges and judicial officers.

JSC is also mandated with the task of investigating and removing from office or otherwise discipline errant registrars, magistrates, other judicial officers and other judicial staff.

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Proponents of the Building Bridges Initiative through the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2020, want the Judicial Service Commission to also have powers to receive complaints against judges, investigate and discipline judges by warning, reprimanding or suspending them.

Clause 43 of the Bill proposes to provide a mechanism to enable the Judicial Service Commission to discipline judicial officers including judges.

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