About the Judicial Service Commission

Date Published :2015-04-15 08:18:00

The Judicial Service Commission is a constitutional body established under Article 171(1) of the Constitution of Kenya. The constitution has conferred upon the commission an expansive and liberal mandate in the discharge of its functions. The mandate of the commission as provided for under Article 172 (1) of the constitution is to promote and facilitate the independence and accountability of the Judiciary and the efficient, effective and transparent administration of justice. The commission comprise of diverse membership which is spelt out under Article 171(2).

The Commission has been in existence since independence. Under the former constitution of Kenya, the functions were limited to advising the president on the appointment of judges and disciplinary control over the registrar of the high court, magistrates, Kadhis and other employees of the Judiciary.

In regard to the composition, the commission comprised the Chief Justice as Chairperson, the Attorney General, a Judge of the Court of Appeal, a puisne Judge and the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission. However, as pointed out by various judiciary reports, the original commission’s functions, composition and practices did not satisfy international best practices and standards. The membership of the commission did not have the wider representation as is currently constituted. Further, the members were direct appointees of the President and this created the perception that the commission was not independent.

The membership of the reconstituted Commission is provided for under Article 171 (2) of the Constitution as follows:

• The Chief Justice who is the chairperson of the Commission;
• One Supreme Court judge
• One Court of Appeal judge elected by other Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges respectively;
• One High Court judge;
• One magistrate elected by members of the association of judges and magistrates;
• The Attorney General;
• Two advocates each elected by members of the Law Society of Kenya;
• One person nominated by the Public Service Commission;
• Two members, a man and a woman who are not lawyers appointed by the President with approval of the National Assembly to represent public interest.

The current composition has ensured inclusivity of key stakeholders in the justice system.

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