The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has opened talks with suspended Judiciary chief registrar Gladys Shollei to resolve a standoff that threatens to paralyse the Judiciary.
Lawyers Paul Muite and Issa Mansur, jointly representing JSC, sought two days to enable the parties resolve the issues.
Last week, JSC sent Mrs Shollei on a 15-day compulsory leave and ordered investigations into alleged procurement malpractice levelled against her, kicking off the current storm. The saga has sucked in politicians who have taken sides.
“I urge this court to give the parties two days to consult and find out whether they can reach an amicable solution to the dispute. Discussions have already been opened between Mrs Shollei and JSC,” Mr Muite told Justice Majanja.
Mr Majaja is the judge who last week stopped the commission from instituting any action against the suspended Chief Registrar. Mr Muite said the parties will report on the progress on Friday.
On Tuesday, lawyer Donald Kipkorir for Mrs Shollei said his client was not aware of the charges she was facing, insisting that she was being prosecuted through the media.
Justice Majanja, however, declined to give any orders on the media coverage even as he advised the press “to give the process a chance as it is a matter of great public interest.”
He extended the orders he gave last week blocking any action against Mrs Shollei by JSC until August 30, 2013.
In response to the suit filed by Mrs Shollei, JSC told the court that the case was bad in law as the commission had powers to take any disciplinary action against any of its officers.
JSC said the case filed against it by the registrar was “totally unfounded both in law and fact and wrongly filed in view of the provisions of the Constitution.
JSC said it would seek to have the same struck out and Mrs Shollei pay the costs. Mrs Shollei has named JSC, commissioners Emily Ominde, Ahmednassir Abdullahi and Justice Mohammed Warsame as respondents. The rest of the commissioners were not sued.
In an affidavit filed by the registrar of JSC Winfred Mokaya, the commissioners say that they were wrongly sued on the basis of personal vendetta.
Ms Mokaya disclosed that JSC had earlier scheduled a retreat in Mombasa from August 15 to 18 to deliberate in, among other issues, matters touching on corporate governance in the Judiciary.
She said that Mrs Shollei was served with a copy of the programme and after the retreat, the commission resolved to send her on compulsory leave to facilitate an investigation and inquiry into allegations against her.
She said the decision to organise the retreat was endorsed by the JSC under the chairmanship of Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.
JSC said the two committees set up to look into her activities were yet to meet to frame issues which she will be called upon to answer.
It said the chief registrar had the constitutional right of presumption of innocence and “will be given a fair hearing at the inquiry so that the veracity of the allegations against her will be established.”
The investigations will be focused on procurement expenditure of JSC’s Sh15 billion budget besides her personal emolument.