JSC nominates judge Philom­ena Mwilu for Deputy CJ

Nom­i­na­tion came as a sur­prise as many had bet­ted on Mur­gor, Koome and Sichale.

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - JILLO KADIDA @jka­dida

Ap­peal judge Philom­ena Mwilu’s in­tegrity and lack of po­lit­i­cal align­ment worked in her favour to be picked as Deputy Chief Jus­tice, the Star has learnt.

Jus­tice Mwilu emerged tops out of the 14 can­di­dates in­ter­viewed by the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion.

Sources say JSC was look­ing for merit, in­tegrity and non-align­ment to any po­lit­i­cal party, as some of the qual­i­ties over and above the qual­i­fi­ca­tions out­lined in the con­sti­tu­tion.

In a press state­ment sent to news­rooms, the com­mis­sion said it sub­mit­ted Mwilu’s name to Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta for ap­point­ment.

“The JSC has, after lengthy de­lib­er­a­tions, rec­om­mended Jus­tice Philom­ena Mwilu for ap­point­ment as the Deputy Chief Jus­tice,” chair­per­son Mar­garet Ko­bia said.

Dur­ing in­ter­views, Mwilu sug­gested that the ju­di­ciary come up with ways to su­per­vise and men­tor young of­fi­cers who suf­fer silently due to al­co­holism.

She said a num­ber of of­fi­cers have a drink­ing prob­lem, but lit­tle is done to help them.

Mwilu said while work­ing in El­doret, she no­ticed a mag­is­trate re­ported to work at 2pm be­cause he had taken too much al­co­hol.

“I was forced to talk to the mag­is­trate and or­gan­ise lunch for the sta­tion’s nine mag­is­trates on a weekly ba­sis to try and find out the prob­lems they were un­der­go­ing,” she said.

If ap­pointed, she be­comes the third per­son to hold the po­si­tion of DCJ in the coun­try since its in­cep­tion in 2010.

The first was Nancy Baraza who had a short stint, as she was re­moved over al­leged mis­con­duct.

She was ac­cused of pinch­ing the nose of a se­cu­rity guard at Vil­lage Mar­ket. A tri­bunal was formed to look into her con­duct. It rec­om­mended her dis­missal. Baraza ap­pealed the de­ci­sion but later re­signed.

After her exit, Jus­tice Kal­pana Rawal was ap­pointed. She re­tired in June after at­tain­ing the re­tire­ment age of 70.

Rawal’s exit was not smooth ei­ther, as she moved to court to chal­lenge an ear­lier di­rec­tive on her re­tire­ment.

She said be­cause she was ap­pointed un­der the re­pealed con­sti­tu­tion, which re­quired judges to re­tire at 74, she had le­git­i­mate ex­pec­ta­tion to serve four more years.

How­ever, she did not suc­ceed. The po­si­tion was ad­ver­tised and a to­tal of 16 can­di­dates were short­listed.

Jus­tice Mwilu was among the judges who han­dled the teach­ers’ salary in­crease case, which was heard last Novem­ber by a five-judge bench.

In 2011, she set aside her judg­ment in which she or­dered that the Ju­di­ciary gets back its land on which El­doret law courts stand.

She had ini­tially or­dered that the land re­verts to Lima Lim­ited but changed her de­ci­sion after get­ting proper in­for­ma­tion, which was ini­tially con­cealed from her.

Mwilu grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Nairobi and was ad­mit­ted as an ad­vo­cate of the High Court of Kenya in 1984.

She prac­ticed law at Muthoga Gaturu & Com­pany and later Mu­tunga & Com­pany Ad­vo­cates.

Mwilu worked as com­pany sec­re­tary and headed a state cor­po­ra­tion, be­fore be­ing ap­pointed as Judge of the High Court in 2007.

She served in the Com­mer­cial Divi­sion in Nairobi, at the El­doret High Court and the Civil Ap­peals, a sub-divi­sion of the High Court, the mur­der sec­tion of the Crim­i­nal Divi­sion and headed the En­vi­ron­ment and Land Divi­sion of the High Court.

The Pres­i­dent is by law ex­pected to for­ward the name to Parliament for ap­proval.

/JACK OWUOR

Jus­tice Philom­ena Mwilu takes her seat in readi­ness for the DCJ in­ter­view at the Supreme Court on Oc­to­ber 3

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