The court of appeal has given the judicial service commission the green light to proceed with the process of recruiting the country’s next chief justice.
JSC has also received a not to conduct interviews for candidates for the Supreme Court judge position to replace retired Justice Jackton Ojwang.
The appellate court overturned a ruling by the High Court that had stopped the JSC from nominating suitable candidates for the Chief Justice position.
“The orders granted by the high court last week barring the continuation of the recruitment and appointment of the chief justice is hereby stayed pending the hearing of this intended appeal, any further hearing of the high court proceedings is also,” ruled the Court of Appeal on Tuesday.
Last week, High Court judges Anthony Mrima, Reuben Nyakundi and Wilfrida Okwany allowed the interviews to go on but ruled against the nomination of the preferred candidates following a case by three petitioners who faulted the recruitment process.
The Attorney General Kihara Kariuki and the JSC appealed the ruling, calling it unjustified and one that would plunge the country into a constitutional crisis.
The petitioners, through lawyers Dunstan Omari, sought to stop the process on grounds that Prof Olive Mugenda is illegally presiding over the recruitment process when she has no powers to act as the JSC chair in the absence of the Chief Justice.
According to Omari, the interviews are supposed to be chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu who is the acting Chief Justice and not Prof Mugenda who is just a commissioner.
“It has not been apparently clear why the current interviews are being chaired by Prof Mugenda in open defiance and insubordination of the constitutional and statutory dictates that demand that the JSC’s affairs should either be chaired by the CJ or the DCJ in the absence of the former,” said Omari.
The petitioners also argue that Prof Mugenda is illegally occupying the position of JSC Commissioner when she is a State officer as the chair of Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital.
JSC has already interviewed the ten shortlisted candidates including Justices Martha Koome, Said Chitembwe, Nduma Nderi, Marete Njagi, and William Ouko.
Others include lawyer Philip Murgor, Fred Ngatia and Alice Yano, as well as Law Scholars Professor Moni Wekesa and Professor Patricia Mbote.
However, Professor makau mutua and katiba institute have petitioned the court to compel jsc to publish marks scored by cj candidates during public interviews.
Interviews for thhe CJ post began in mid April following the retirement of David Maraga on January 12 this year.