What you need to know:
- He was accused of delaying reasons for his ruling for five months, occasioning loss of Sh76 million to NIC Bank.
The Supreme Court will this morning hear a petition filed by High Court judge Martin Muya who has challenged a tribunal’s recommendation for his removal from office.
The judge challenged the findings of a tribunal chaired by former Court of Appeal judge Alnashir Visram, which found him guilty of gross misconduct. He was accused of delaying reasons for his ruling for five months, occasioning loss of Sh76 million to NIC Bank.
The dispute revolved around a loan borrowed by Kipsigis Stores and which had 14 lorries as security. The company fell into arrears and the lender seized them, with plans to auction the vehicles only for Kipsigis Stores to seek an injunction.
According to the tribunal, the judge’s failure to state reasons for stopping the sale occasioned the loss of Sh76 million to the lender.
The judge has defended himself, saying he ordered a ‘status quo’ , which was to ensure the possession of the lorries remained as they were, until further orders of the court. He further said the orders did not allow Kipsigis Stores to sell or dispose the lorries.
The tribunal presented its report to President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 20 last year, recommending Justice Muya’s removal. It concluded that the judge was guilty of gross misconduct.
“The tribunal is of the view that the Hon Judge misconducted himself by delaying to deliver the reserved reasons with the result that access to justice was curtailed and specifically with respect to the Defendant,” the tribunal stated.
Through lawyers Fred Ngatia and Philip Nyachoti, the judge said he explained the delay because the file was missing.
“Ultimately, the Appellant contends that his actions did not amount to “gross misconduct or misbehaviour” as envisaged in Article 168 (1) (e) of the Constitution,” states the petition.
Mr Nyachoti also says in documents filed in court that there was no proper petition before the Judicial Service Commission, hence the findings are a nullity.
In the dispute, Alfred Kipkorir Mutai and Samuel Cheruiyot Mutai, both directors of Kipsigis Stores in Sotik, filed a case in September, 2016 against NIC Bank.
The two sought a permanent injunction as well as declarations of non-indebtedness in respect of some 14 lorries, which were financed by the bank, through hire purchase agreements.
Evidence presented to the Tribunal was that the bank advanced various credit facilities to Kipsigis Stores Ltd and entered into various agreements with its directors on various dates and in varying amounts.
In the agreements, the two executed personal guarantees, undertaking the prompt and complete payment and the motor vehicles were all jointly registered in the names of the bank and the directors of Kipsigis Stores. They would be transferred to them after paying as agreed.
But they fell into arrears and the lender sought to repossess the vehicles but they rushed to court and blocked the move. The Judge granted the injunction and the matter was adjourned on several occasions before the parties given a hearing date.
Justice Muya finally heard the matter and gave his ruling but did not give his reasons then. The parties were made to wait for five months and by then, some vehicles had been sold and the company placed under receivership over another debt to a different party.