What you need to know:
- For his resoluteness, Justice Maraga paid the price.
- His administration suffered severe budgetary cuts, which paralysed judicial operations.
Chief Justice David Maraga formally retired yesterday from the Judiciary after attaining age 70 in conformity with the constitutional provisions. The second Chief Justice since the enactment of the 2010 Constitution, Justice Maraga’s transition demonstrates that the law works.
He handed over the reins of power to the Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, who will act until a substantive CJ is appointed in line with the constitutional requirements.
Justice Maraga leaves behind a fairly robust Judiciary, an institution that has undergone fundamental transformation in the past decade and among others, achieved some level of independence. Which is the challenge for the incoming CJ; he or she must consolidate the gains made and continue on the trajectory of renewal and growth.
As he exits the stage, Justice Maraga goes down in history for unprecedented rulings that changed the course of history in the country. He presided over the bench that annulled the election of a sitting President, earning him veneration and epithets in equal measure. His fidelity to the rule of law, boldness in articulating issues affecting the Judiciary, sober and restrained demeanour and firmness stood him out as a pillar in the administration of justice. He confronted President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Executive and Legislature whenever he felt the Judiciary was being undermined.
For his resoluteness, Justice Maraga paid the price. His administration suffered severe budgetary cuts, which paralysed judicial operations. President Kenyatta stubbornly refused to appoint judges approved by the Judicial Service Commission. But Justice Maraga never wavered.
However, the CJ did not deliver on some pledges he made when he ascended to office. Case backlogs were never cleared. Access to justice remains elusive to many. Although efforts were made to expand courts, they are still few and far apart.
The onus now falls on the JSC to commence the process of recruiting the next CJ and the guiding principle is professional excellence, integrity, independence and ability to serve.