By Moses Walubiri
Retired Supreme Court judge, Prof. George Kanyeihamba, has called for “a radical surgery” of the judiciary to stop the public from completely losing confidence in the country’s judicial system.
A two-time Attorney General, Kanyeihamba earlier Tuesday warned that ignoring the swirling rumors of corruption about the judiciary and the increasing incidents of “biased judgments and abuse of judicial process” will erode public confidence in the judiciary.
Citing the raging Constitutional Court case in which Western Youth MP, Gerald Karuhanga is challenging the reappointment of Justice Benjamin Odoki as Chief Justice; the former law don said a commission of inquiry is necessary to clean the image of the judiciary.
“I joined public life as a human rights activist. A fearless, impartial and independent judiciary is integral in dispensing justice and fostering the rule of law. Ounce this is undermined, then forget the rule of law,” Kanyeihamba told journalists at parliament.
Kanyeihamba is leading a team of lawyers representing Karuhanga in his Odoki petition, and he is quick to link what he labeled as “frustrations, illegalities and abuse of court process” in the Constitutional Court to political meddling in the judiciary.
When the Karuhanga case initially came up in the Constitutional Court, the petitioners impugned the impartiality of two justices – Augustine Nshimye and Steven Kavuma – demanding that they recuse themselves from the panel.
However, although Nshimye and Kavuma initially pushed back insinuations of partiality on their part, they quietly recused themselves from the panel.
But already the petitioner had filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court with Kanyeihamba early this week challenging the locus of the Constitutional Court to handle the case.
Karuhanga’s legal team has on several occasions accused the Constitutional Court of frustrating its attempt to file a substantive appeal in the Supreme Court by denying it written proceedings and ruling of the case impugning Nshimye and Kavuma’s partiality.
Earlier, Karuhanga had decried what he described as “politics penetrating the judiciary”, revealing his intention to petition Parliament next week to institute a commission of inquiry on the judiciary.
“What we have are political courts because many judges are on judicial benches on account of being NRM cadres,” the youthful legislator said.
When asked why he has not deemed it prudent to lodge such complaints with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) which has the mandate to discipline members on the judicial bench, Kanyeihamba cited the backlog of complaints it has failed to clear labeling it “dysfunctional.”
However, both the secretary to the JSC, Kagole Kivumbi, and that of the judiciary sopkesperon, Erias Kisawuzi scoffed at the duo’s allegations, with the former describing them as “blackmailing the entire judiciary.”
“Let them lodge their complaints with us and we will address them,” Kagole said.
Kisawuzi, on his part advised the duo to utilize the legal framework tailored to addressing grievances against members of the judicial bench or those emanating from judicial decisions instead of running to the press.
Kenya, a decade ago, instituted a commission of inquiry into its judiciary under the auspices of the Commonwealth with Kanyeihamba as its chairman.
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Judiciary needs a radical surgery - Kanyeihamba