SUPREME COURT GIVES SUSPENDED JUDGE 45DAYS TO RESPOND TO JSC.

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Suspended Judge,  Justice Joseph  Mutava with his Lawyer Philip Nyachoti before a tribunal.
BY SAM ALFAN.

Suspended High Court Judge Joseph Mutava, who is challenging recommendations for his sacking, has been allowed to reply to grounds of opposition lodged by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) within  45 days.

The JSC maintains that the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain Justice Mutava’s petition since the Court of Appeal, in a judgment delivered on May 8, last year, had given clearance to the seven-member tribunal to investigate him over alleged misconduct.

The Judge was aggrieved by the decision and filed his intention to appeal to the Supreme Court on May 21, last year, but did not follow it up.

The High Court had restrained the tribunal from handling the probe on June 28, 2013, on the basis that the JSC had not accorded him a fair hearing.

The three-Judge bench had declared the tribunal incompetent since two of its members had been appointed beyond the 14-day statutory period.

Lawyer Philip Nyachoti informed Supreme Court Deputy Registrar Anne Asuga that the Judge had instructed a lead counsel from Mombasa to handle the case and required adequate time to study the voluminous documents.

The grounds of opposition have been filed by the Attorney General on behalf of the highest decision-making body of the Judiciary.

Chief Justice David Maraga and Supreme Court Judge Smokin Wanjala will most likely be excluded from hearing the petition.

Justice Maraga chaired the tribunal that indicted the Judge and recommended to President Uhuru Kenyatta on September 21 to remove him from the bench while Justice Wanjala had chaired a JSC sub-committee that absolved the Judge of eight allegations but found him culpable of three others.

The aggrieved Judge has petitioned the highest court in the land to invalidate the tribunal’s recommendations on the basis that the appointment of its members was irregular.

The first five members were appointed on May 30, 2013 and the other two on June 17, 2013. The President is required to appoint the entire team within 14 days after formally receiving the complaints from the JSC.

Justice Mutava says the tribunal’s findings were based on complaints that had been voluntarily withdrawn, that the complainants did not give evidence and that third parties purported to finx him on trumped-up accusations.

The tribunal had concluded that three specific allegations regarding the manner in which the Judge quashed the Sh5.7billion criminal case against Goldenberg suspect Kamlesh Pattni had been proved and they amounted to gross misconduct.

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