Suspended judge Njagi Marete of the Employment and Labour Relations Court has been reinstated to office after a tribunal dismissed allegations of gross misconduct and misbehaviour levelled against him.
The tribunal chaired by retired judge Alnasir Visram found that the allegations raised by Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA), Unilever, Siret and five others who were respondents in an employment dispute in Kericho, lacked merit.
The complainants accused the judge of gross misconduct, bias, impartiality and breach of the Constitution, saying he issued interim ex-parte orders conflicting others issued in Nairobi by justice Monicah Mbaru.
It was said that on October 19, 2017 judge Marete issued an order of injunction to restrain KTGA and four companies from victimising and dismissing any employee in respect of the strike notice or outstanding issues pertaining to the 2016/2017 CBA.
But earlier James Finlay Kenya Limited (Finlay Flowers) had filed a case in Nairobi against the workers union (Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union) in connection with the strike.
On October 17, 2017, the Nairobi court granted an interim injunction restraining the workers’ union, its officials and members from engaging in the strike and requiring police officers to enforce court orders and to protect the destruction of its properties.
The tribunal heard that the judge was aware that the case had been handled by another judge, but he went ahead and issued orders which had the effect of setting aside the orders of his colleague.
They argued that the judge should not have entertained a petition filed by striking tea workers and his decision occasioned the growers huge financial loses because the workers continued with the strike.
But the Visram-led tribunal ruled that there was no evidence the orders issued by judge Marete contradicted those issued in Nairobi neither was there a proof that he exhibited bias or partisanship while handling the case. The tribunal found the orders by the other Judge were in respect of a different dispute.
"The tribunal having considered all the evidence tendered and applied the requisite law, found that the sole allegation of gross misconduct or misbehaviour contrary to Article 168 (1) (e) of the Constitution was not proved against the judge,” said Mr Visram.