Appellate judges veto CJ’s powers
A three-judge bench on Friday clipped the powers of the Chief Justice (pictured) to assign magistrates court power to handle the environment and land matters.
Justices Mathew Emukule, Said Chitembwe and Mugure Thande, sitting at the Malindi court, nullified the law, which gave the holder of the office of the CJ powers to appoint magistrates to handle land matters.
They also nullified the law which gave the CJ powers to assign judges appointed to the Environment Court to handle criminal cases whose jurisdiction clearly falls under the High Court.
The three judges held that the jurisdiction of a court is conferred by the Constitution and not by administrative acts of the CJ. Consequently, they declared Section 2 of the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act of 2015 unconstitutional.
Also nullified is the Gazette notice of March 1 in which former CJ Willy Mutunga published a list of 168 magistrates who were given the power to deal with cases involving disputes relating to the environment and land, with effect from March 14.
Some of the 168 magistrates appointed had pending issues before the Judges and Magistrates’ Vetting Board. Their judgment arose out of a case which was filed by the Malindi Law Society.
The organisation argued that the holder of the office of CJ does not have powers to transfer a High Court judge to the Environment Court and vice versa. In their view, the jurisdiction of the court to deal with the Environment and Land matters is conferred by the Constitution.
The society said before the enactment of the legislation both its members and the public were not given ample time to participate in the process.