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CJ must be tough and resist forces of status quo – Mutunga

Former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga wants his replacement to be incorruptible, progressive and to fight forces seeking to return the judiciary to “old sinful glory”. Mutunga presented his wish list of qualities of the next CJ to the Judicial Service Commission at a private retreat in May. Details recently surfaced.

“My successor and the Deputy Chief Justice should be great lawyers of integrity, incorruptible and people seen and perceived as judicial officers for all Kenyans, not agents of partisan interests,” Mutunga said.

He urged the JSC to ensure selected candidates pass the integrity, morality, independence (political backbone), juridical compliance, transformational and public confidence tests.

‘Forces at play’

Mutunga said there are forces at play in the succession battle – some within and others outside the judiciary. “The forces of the status quo in the judiciary loudly claim they will return the institution to its ‘old’ sinful glory – so sinful that the public wanted all judges and magistrates sacked as part of the new constitution,” he said.

“I believe that means recruiting judges internally because they understand the judiciary better than the ‘outsiders’. The agenda of this internal judicial force is unconstitutional and illegal.”

Mutunga urged the JSC to subject the candidates for judicial office to forensic lifestyle audits to create more confidence in the recruitment process.

He said the vetting, under the Vetting Board Act, has been perceived as less foolproof in determining the suitability of some judicial officers.

Mutunga retired on June 16, a year before he was to step down, to pave way for recruitment of his successor.

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