JSC opposes suit by 42 magistrates fired in graft purge

Judiciary chief registrar Ann Amadi. file photo | nmg
Judiciary chief registrar Ann Amadi. file photo | nmg 

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has requested the High Court to strike out a suit filed by magistrates sacked 14 years ago.

The 42 former judicial officers, who have filed the case, lost their jobs in 2003, during the Kibaki administration, after they were linked to corruption.

They reckon their termination was unfair and want those who are still eligible to be reinstated or be fully compensated for the loss of employment.

The JSC, through Judiciary chief registrar Ann Amadi, said in court papers it had taken the magistrates 14 years to file the case and that they had not demonstrated what had stopped them from filing the case earlier.

“Section 90 of the Employment Act requires that they should have filed the case in court within a period of three years from the time when the decision to retire them in public interest was made,” says Ms Amadi in court papers.

The magistrates were sacked following investigations into corruption in the Judiciary by a committee headed by former judge Aaron Ringera.

The committee linked half of Kenya’s judges and nearly a third of its magistrates to corruption, unethical conduct and other forms of misconduct, prompting mass sackings. The report followed the December 2002 election of President Kibaki who had promised tough action on corruption.

The magistrates were required to defend themselves.

Upon considering their submissions, the JSC returned a verdict that they should be retired in public interest, and the decision was communicated to them.  Others appealed but the JSC dismissed their petitions.

Ms Amadi in court papers said: “In view of this, I believe the former magistrates were neither denied the opportunity to make their representations before the JSC nor were they condemned unheard.”

The magistrates in response, however, said they could only be removed from office in accordance with the provisions of the repealed JSC Regulations, which were not followed.

The hearing resumes on January 31.