The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has shortlisted 104 candidates to fill 20 High Court judge slots, an exercise that will push the judiciary’s wage bill up by at least Sh240 million annually.
JSC has shortlisted 58 lawyers and 46 magistrates from a pool of 266 applicants who had sought the vacancies following an advertisement dated March 24, 2022.
The High Court is currently understaffed as it has 82 judges against a statutory establishment of 200.
The new officials will cost the judiciary an extra Sh240 million every month in pay and perks pushing up the judiciary budget.
JSC secretary Anne Amadi on Tuesday said interviews for shortlisted candidates will run from October 3 to November 3, 2022, at the JSC office boardroom, Reinsurance Plaza, Taifa Road, Nairobi.
“Having reviewed the complaints lodged and responses by the candidates, the JSC resolved that affected candidates be accorded a fair hearing and given an opportunity to provide better particulars and clarification as required by the Commission,” she said.
High Court judges earn a maximum of Sh1,000,974 monthly plus other duty allowances and benefits such as official transport (a government car, driver and security detail).
Another benefit entitled to judges is an annual medical cover of Sh10 million (inpatient), Sh300,000 (outpatient), Sh150,000 (maternity), Sh75,000 (Dental) and Sh75,000 (optical).
They are also entitled to a car loan and mortgage, non-practising allowance of Sh20,000 and group life insurance that is for a value equivalent to three times the annual basic remuneration package.
Among those shortlisted for the interviews are President William Ruto’s lawyer Ng’ania Melissa.
Ms Ng’ania was among the lawyers who represented President Ruto at the Supreme Court recently during the presidential election petition.
Others shortlisted for the job are two top prosecutors –Dorcas Oduor (Secretary, Public Prosecutions and the Principal Deputy to the Director of Public Prosecutions) and Alexander Muteti (senior assistant DPP).
Ms Odour, who is also Head of Economic, International and Emerging Crimes at the Office of the DPP, had in July been interviewed by JSC for the position of the Appeal Court judge but she was not hired.
Also shortlisted are lawyers and scholars such Prof Sifuna Nixon Wanyama, Dr Githiru Freda Mugambi, Dr Ogama Damaris Were and Winfred Osimbo Lichuma alongside other law scholars both practicing and non-practicing lawyers.
Prof Wanyama had also in July appeared before JSC panel for interviews for the position of Court of Appeal Judge but was not hired.
The magistrates seeking elevation include Douglas Ogoti, Elizabeth Juma and Lawrence Mugambi from the anti-corruption court together with Wendy Kagendo and Francis Andayi from the criminal division.
Other magistrates eyeing elevation include Mr Derrick Kuto, who is the president of the Kenya magistrates and judges association (KMJA).