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Koome rails at Mutunga over judges’ work boycott

The unprecedented decision by former Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga to rally all judicial officers to boycott court activities until President Uhuru Kenyatta appoints six omitted judges recommended for promotion to higher courts, it appears, does not augur well with the current head of Judiciary and Chief Justice Martha Koome.

Koome, in a statement, expressed displeasure and deep disapproval to Mutunga’s call for strike noting that it amounts to incitement that is meant to disrupt access to justice for Kenyans.

She is instead urging Judges to disregard the ‘pernicious’ call and focus on the progressive reforms which include finding mechanisms to reduce case backlog.

“While assuming the position of 13th Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya, Dr Willy Mutunga took oath of office to diligently serve the people and the Republic of Kenya and to impartially do justice in accordance with the Constitution, and the laws and customs of the Republic, without any fear, favour, bias, affection, ill-will, prejudice or any political, religious, or other influence,” she charged.

Even though retired, a tough-talking Koome said Mutunga ought to ensure fidelity to the solemn affirmation to secure, guide, and protect the right of every Kenyan to access justice and indeed the substratum of the Constitution.

Asking judges and lawyers to stay out of their duty stations, according to Koome, go against this spirit.

“The implications of calling for a judicial strike are far-reaching. It is in part, calling for the suspension or dismemberment of the Constitution by excluding one arm of Government from the constitutional operations of our democratic state,” she said.

She wondered why Mutunga called for a strike when it is on record that while serving as Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission, he disproved any action by judges to down their tools.

“It is therefore regrettable that Dr Mutunga has called for absconding of duty by the Judiciary which in effect, will affect the operations of the entire justice sector,” she said,.

She noted that the call to boycott duty was ill-informed especially at a time 700,000 cases worth billions of shillings and impacting millions of people and families are pending in the judicial system.

“Clearing this backlog remains our top priority,” she said.

“We, therefore, cannot afford to abandon our judicial mandate owing to a matter that is pending before the Court of Appeal and which will be accorded the centrality that it deserves,” she maintained. 

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