Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal Hasmukhrai faces a long wait before becoming Kenya’s next Deputy Chief Justice after being nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Friday.
She will have to wait for the inauguration of the next Parliament after which departmental committees will be formed including the one on Justice and Legal Affairs which will evaluate her suitability for the office.
With opinion polls showing a tight race between two leading coalitions – Raila Odinga’s CORD and Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee – a runoff poll within 30 days after March 4 General Election could extend the wait even further.
Under the Constitution, the candidate picked by JSC can only assume office as Deputy Chief Justice and Vice-President of the Supreme Court after the clearance by national assembly and subsequent appointment by the President.
The JSC nominated Justice Rawal after two days of interviewing distinguished women lawyers like former Law Society Chairperson Rachel Omamo, Joyce Majiwa, Phoebe Nyawade and Lucy Muthoni Kambuni.
The candidates faced screening on experience and integrity as outlined in Chapter Six of the Constitution.
If cleared by the next government, she will become Chief Justice Willy Mutunga’s deputy, succeeding Nancy Baraza who was forced out of office a year ago for harassing a security guard at the Village Market.
A seven-member tribunal led by former Chief Justice of Tanzania Augustino Ramadhani recommended her removal from office.
In a brief statement released on Friday, JSC described Lady Justice Rawal as “mature, patient and humble” to occupy the position of the country’s Deputy Chief Justice.
“Justice Rawal is an experienced, distinguished, and well-grounded Judge with a clear view of the institution of the Judiciary,” JSC’s secretary Gladys Shollei said.
“She would be an important supportive asset to the office of the Chief Justice and the entire judiciary,” she added.
Unlike Ms Baraza who came to the Judiciary from NGO advocacy background, Justice Rawal comes along as a career Judge.
“She brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the office acquired over 40 years in the legal profession,” the JSC statement added.