CJ Mutunga fast tracks hearing of Rawal, Tunoi retirement appeal

CJ Mutunga fast tracks hearing of Rawal, Tunoi retirement appeal

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has convened a 5-judge bench to hear the appeal filed by Kalpana Rawal and Phillip Tunoi on their retirement age.

Mutunga ordered the matter that had been certified as urgent be heard this Thursday, and not June 24th, as was earlier set by Justice Njoki Ndung’u.

“Granted the urgency under which the hearing of the application was sought, and the public interest in this application, I hereby invoke my administrative powers as the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court to fast track the hearing of this application,” read Mutunga’s statement.

Mutunga has ordered the Judiciary Registrar to serve all parties involved in the case ahead of the Thursday hearing before the five-judge bench, after directions are issued tomorrow (Tuesday).

Had the case been heard on the 24th of June as set by Justice Njoki, it would have effectively placed Rawal, by operation of section 5(4) of the Judicial Service Act, as the acting Chief Justice for at least 6 months.

It would also place her as the acting chair of the Judicial Service Commission that will recruit Mutunga’s successor.

With Mutunga’s departure in a fortnight, it would also mean that there would be no bench to hear and determine the Rawal-Tunoi appeal since the two cannot sit to deal with a matter they are involved in due to the obvious conflict of interest.

This effectively denies the Supreme Court the quorum of 5 judges required to hear and determine matters before the country’s top court.

Earlier today, Former Law Society of Kenya CEO Apollo Mboya filed a petition to the Judicial Service Commission demanding the removal of Justice Njoki Ndung’u for alleged gross misconduct.

In his petition, Mboya wants The Supreme Court Judge ejected after she issued a stay order shortly after the Appellate Court issued an order requiring Justices Kalpana Rawal and Philip Tunoi to retire from the court since they have attained the age of 70, as stipulated in the Constitution.

Lady Justice Njoki issued the stay order as the duty judge until a case filed by Deputy Chief Justice Rawal and justice Tunoi challenging their retirement is heard and determined by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Service Commission is expected to meet and discuss two court decisions that have plunged the Judiciary into crisis.

On Friday, Justice Rawal together with embattled Justice Tunoi moved to the Supreme Court moments after the Appeal Court issued the ruling sending them into retirement, insisting they should retire at 74 based on the old Constitution.

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Story By Wangui Ngechu
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