What you need to know:
- The commission accused the chief justice of ignoring the “fundamental issues that go to the root of the fabric and structure of our constitution” in advising the President to dissolve parliament.
- It cited the fact that there are two High Court petitions set for hearing on October 7, 2020.
Parliament Tuesday launched a scathing attack against Chief Justice David Maraga and the Judiciary over the petition to dissolve the House for failing to operationalise the two-thirds gender rule.
From moving to court, to finding fault in Justice Maraga’s decision, to verbal attacks and even summoning Kenya’s top judge to explain why the Supreme Court has not attained gender parity, lawmakers were firing from all cylinders as they trained their guns on the man they claimed was out to cut short their term.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi directed the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to challenge Justice Maraga’s petition in court, saying it was ill-advised, premature and unconstitutional.
“We must not lose sight of the real challenges in implementing this matter and turn Parliament into a punching bag on account of gender parity. The PSC is convinced that the matter shall be resolved lawfully and calls for calm and sobriety in order to avert the kind of national anxiety and despondency that the action of the CJ could elicit,” Mr Muturi said.
The commission accused the chief justice of ignoring the “fundamental issues that go to the root of the fabric and structure of our constitution” in advising the President to dissolve parliament.
It cited the fact that there are two High Court petitions set for hearing on October 7, 2020.
The petitions seek the determination of the court over whether the order made by Justice Mativo on March 29, 2017, during the tenure of the 11th Parliament is applicable to the 12th Parliament that was elected in August 2017.
Justice Mativo had ordered that Parliament passes the law within 60 days from the judgment date or risk having someone going to court to petition for the dissolution of Parliament.
“It is therefore premature for the Chief Justice to take this action while the High Court is yet to determine this matter.”
Among the arguments PSC will be presenting to the High Court is that the term of that Parliament expired upon the general elections in August 2017and a new 12th Parliament, the current one, assumed office.
The Speaker noted that the 5th schedule makes no mention of any legislation to be passed by Parliament “arising from article 27 of the Constitution upon which Parliament has been blamed so harshly.”
This came as MPs summoned the Chief Justice to explain why the Supreme Court has failed to achieve the two-thirds gender rule.
Chairman of Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) Jeremiah Kioni said they want the CJ to account before Parliament why the institution he has not implemented the gender balance principle.
The attacks were extended into the sittings of both the Senate and the National Assembly, with senators and MPs taking issue with Justice Maraga’s petition.
In the National Assembly, MPs Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri), Aden Duale (Garissa Township), Olago Aluoch (Kisumu Town West), Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), John Mbadi (Suba South), Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa) and Adan Keynan said that CJ Maraga’s advice to the President was ill advised.
In support of Maraga
However, only Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo spoke in support of CJ Maraga.
“Let us stop personalising attacks against the CJ. The matter has now gone to the President who will decide to dissolve or choose to dilly dally and save Parliament,” said Ms Odhiambo.
At the Senate, in a debate that exposed the sharp differences between male and female senators, the lawmakers accused the CJ of being a lone ranger and playing to the gallery.
“Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said in reference to the advisory, adding that the CJ should have exercised extreme caution because an appeal on the issue could end up in the Supreme Court.
However, nominated senators Abshiro Halake, Farihya Ali, Millicent Omanga, Sylvia Kassanga threw their support behind Maraga, saying his advisory had not only brought back the gender debate on the table, but also created a constitutional moment to ensure that the necessary laws are enacted to emancipate women.
Reported by David Mwere, Ibrahim Oruko and Samwel Owino