I am a lib­eral Chris­tian, CJ nom­i­nee Maraga tells vet­ting MPs

Judge tells Jus­tice Com­mit­tee that he is not a fa­natic and will fol­low the law

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - JAMES MBAKA @onchir­im­baka

Chief Jus­tice nom­i­nee David Maraga, 66, yes­ter­day told MPs he will work to end fre­quent wran­gles pit­ting Par­lia­ment and the ex­ec­u­tive against the judiciary.

He told the Jus­tice and Le­gal Af­fairs Com­mit­tee that as a “lib­eral Chris­tian rather than a fa­natic”, he will fol­low the law when dis­charg­ing his du­ties.

“I am a Chris­tian liv­ing in Kenya and work­ing in the judiciary serv­ing the peo­ple. I am not a fa­natic, I know some peo­ple are not Chris­tians I am not go­ing to tram­ple on their rights just be­cause they are not Chris­tians, that is not even what my faith teaches me,” Maraga said.

“I will en­sure peo­ple who come to court are ac­corded their con­sti­tu­tional right ir­re­spec­tive of their reli­gion. I deal with peo­ple, the law and the ev­i­dence be­fore me.”

Maraga said he will work to en­sure there is har­mony among the three arms of gov­ern­ment. He said there should be sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers, but with clear checks and bal­ances to pre­vent abuse and ex­cesses.

“We are all ac­count­able to the peo­ple. The three arms in all democ­ra­cies, when op­er­at­ing ideally and prop­erly, there are checks and bal­ances,” Maraga said.

MPs asked Maraga what he will do to avoid sit­u­a­tions where the courts is­sue in­junc­tions against par­lia­men­tary pro­ceed­ings or de­vel­op­ment projects by the ex­ec­u­tive fol­low­ing ap­pli­ca­tions by res­i­dents or civil so­ci­ety groups.

“If we have re­spect for each other and em­brace di­a­logue, I don’t see a sit­u­a­tion where sum­mons are is­sued to Par­lia­ment and the ex­ec­u­tive. It is all about the way a mat­ter is dealt with,” Maraga said.

“We can­not have a sit­u­a­tion where a judge sum­mons the speaker when per­form­ing his du­ties. We should not even think of sum­mon­ing the Pres­i­dent. The same should be ac­corded to the Chief Jus­tice.”

Maraga said he will es­tab­lish a quar­terly round ta­ble where the Pres­i­dent, speaker and Chief Jus­tice meet to de­lib­er­ate on cross-cut­ting is­sues of pub­lic in­ter­est “to avoid un­nec­es­sary squab­bles”.

MPs raised con­cerns the judiciary en­croaches on Par­lia­ment’s law­mak­ing pow­ers through court orders. But Maraga said in­junc­tions are is­sued spar­ingly when com­mit­tees of the House sit as a quasi-ju­di­cial body.

“It is not that the judiciary is usurp­ing Par­lia­ment. We have only done that when there is ev­i­dence of not fol­low­ing due process be­cause that process is like court pro­ceed­ings,” he told MPs.

Maraga said cor­rup­tion in the judiciary is both real and per­ceived. He said he will re­struc­ture the of­fice of Om­buds­man and es­tab­lish a fully fledged sec­re­tar­iat equipped with qual­i­fied in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cers.

“Cor­rup­tion is wide­spread in our coun­try and the judiciary is no ex­cep­tion. Losers of court cases think their op­po­nents have bribed us. We get quite a num­ber of al­le­ga­tions against judges and ju­di­cial of­fers,” Maraga said.

He said the of­fice of Om­buds­man will be crit­i­cal in deal­ing with “wide­spread” cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions in the judiciary through thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“Cur­rently the of­fice is led by a chief mag­is­trate. I will re­struc­ture it to have it headed by a se­nior judge be­cause the pro­to­col does not al­low a mag­is­trate to sum­mon a judge,” Maraga said.

He said he will use his 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence as a pri­vate le­gal prac­ti­tioner and 13 years as a judge to ad­dress the is­sue of back­log of cases and the dis­ap­pear­ance of files from court reg­istries.

Maraga said he will au­to­mate court records and all pro­ceed­ings. “I have spo­ken to de­vel­op­ment part­ners and we are ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of us­ing au­to­ma­tion in hear­ing elec­tion pe­ti­tions. We will soon get the equip­ment to au­to­mate the pro­ceed­ings ahead of the next polls,” he said.

Maraga said he will in­still a sense of team­work among ju­di­cial of­fi­cers and staff to bring the du­ra­tion of cases be­fore court to three years.

He said cases that drag hurt the econ­omy. “No leader can suc­ceed if you don’t carry your staff with you. We need to get the team­work in place and un­der­stand we are all there to serve wananchi,” Maraga said.

The judge was in­ter­viewed against the back­drop of three pe­ti­tions against his ap­point­ment. They were filed by Em­manuel Korir, Fredrick Onyan­cha and Ai­namoi res­i­dent Tom Biegon. Korir ac­cused Maraga of fail­ing to up­hold the Con­sti­tu­tion in his rul­ing in a case re­gard­ing the killing of the then Ai­namoi MP David Too, on Jan­uary 31, 2008. The par­lia­men­tary as­pi­rant says Maraga re­duced the mur­der charge to man­slaugh­ter, lead­ing to a 10-year im­pris­on­ment.

PHOTO / HEZRON NJOROGE

/HEZRON NJOROGE

Chief Jus­tice nom­i­nee Jus­tice David Maraga be­fore the Na­tional As­sem­bly Jus­tice and Le­gal Af­fairs Com­mit­tee. He was vet­ted in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day

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