The High Court has referred a case challenging the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s move declining the allowance car grant of up to Ksh 10 million to judges to Chief Justice Martha Koome to constitute a bench for hearing the case.
In a ruling delivered by Milimani High Court Judge Lawrence Mugambi the court ordered that the case be referred to Chief Justice Koome to appoint a bench of judges to hear and determine the case after concurring with SRC arguments that the case filed by activist Peter Mwangi Gachuiri raises serious questions of law.
“I have looked at the issues raised by the SRC and read the petition by Gachuirir and responses to the petition fully. I therefore find the issues raised here are substantial. I thus certify this matter raises substantial questions of law and hereby refer the same to the Chief Justice for empanelment of a bench,” Justice Mugambi ruled.
While allowing the request for the case to be heard by a bench of not less than three judges, Justice Mugambi said the issue of Judiciary independence is one of the matters that is being questioned.
“The issue raised relates to compensation for judges. This is one of the protected constitutional features of judicial independence. There will be thus a need to determine if the current stalemate over this matter is a potential threat to the judicial independence in this country,” Mugambi stated.
According to Justice Mugambi, the historical perspective on payment of these allowances for judges or their equivalent would have to be explored just as the question of who had and has a constitutional mandate to make a decision over this matter. Clarity over this matter needs to be defined. In my assessment, these are not mere questions of law but substantial issues which have not been expressly litigated in this country yet. They need to be conclusively settled to ensure consistency in a matter of great constitutional significance as presented through this petition.