BY GEOFFREY ISAYA
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has recommended the appointment of 30 judges to the Environment and Land Court (ELC) and the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) in a move that will see the number of judges assigned to the two specialized courts increase to 75 from the current 45.
The Chief Justice David Maraga-led panel says the recommendations “took into account constitutional and statutory parameters”.
20 of the judges have been recommended for appointment to ELC while 10 will assume duties at the ELRC. The JSC is required under Article 172 (1) (a) of the Constitution (2010) to: “promote and facilitate the independence and accountability of the judiciary and the efficient, effective and transparent administration of justice and shall- (a) recommend to the President persons for appointment as judges”.
The environment court which has exclusive and appellate jurisdiction on environment and land-related matters currently has 33 judges sitting in 26 counties.
The labour relations court which hears original and appeal cases arising from employment and labour disputes currently has 12 judges stationed in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nyeri, Kericho, and Nakuru.
JSC said in a statement a total of 389 applications were received following an advert placed on local dailies on February 2 out of which 63 candidates were shortlisted for ELC and 29 for ELRC.
The shortlisted candidates were interviewed between July 9 and August 8.
Those listed for appointment as ELC judges are Mboya Oguttu Joseph, Naikuni Lucas Leperes, Mwanyale Michael Ngolo, Makori Evans Kiago, Addraya Eda Dena, Kimani Lilian Gathoni, Kamau Joseph Mugo, Wabwoto Karoph Edward, Koross Anne Yatich Kipingor and Gicheru Maxwell Nduiga.
Others are Mogeni Ann Jacqueline Akhalemesi Anam, Ongarora Fred Nyagaka, Christopher Kyania Nzili, Mugo David Mwangi, Cheruiyot Elizabeth Omange, Omollo Lynette Achieng’, Washe Emmanuel Mutwana, Nyukuri Annet, Murigi Theresa Wairimu and Asati Esther.
Those recommended for appointment to the ELRC are Gakeri Jacob Kariuki, Baari Christine Noontatua, Keli Jemimah Wanza, Mwaure Anna Ngibuini, Matanga Bernard Odongo Manani, Rutto Chemtai Stella, Kebira Ocharo, Okeche Harrison Ogweno, Kitiku Agnes Mueni-Nzel and Nderitu David Njagi.
The two specialized courts – ELC and ELRC – are listed as superior courts alongside the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, and the High Court under Article 162 (1) of the Constitution (2010).
The shortlisting of the 30 persons for appointment as judges of the specialized courts with a High Court status comes just three months after the JSC forwarded the names of 11 candidates for appointment as Court of Appeal judges.
The list forwarded to President Uhuru Kenyatta in April included Justice Odunga George Vincent, Lady Justice Ngugi Grace Mumbi, Justice Odunga George Vincent, Justice Korir Weldon and Justice Msagha Mbogholi.
Others recommended for appointment were Justice Tuiyott Francis, Lady Justice Omondi Hellen Amolo, Lady Justice Nyamweya Pauline, Justice Muchelule Aggrey Otsyula, Justice Kibaya Laibuta and Justice Joel Mwaura Ngugi.
The JSC said at the time it was seeking to increase the number of judges assigned to the Court of Appeal from the current 19 to 30.
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) however voiced criticism over the listing of the 11 appellate court judges citing exclusion of candidates from private practice.
LSK said in July the proposed list did not bring out diversity of experience from the bar, bench and academia.