Supreme Court’s Uniform Ruling Is Suspicious

Judges of the Supreme Court of Kenya have so far made two landmark rulings which raises hard questions in the light of procedure, content, presentation and uniformity of their judgment. The first ruling was in the presidential election petition. Presidential candidate Mr. Raila Odinga prayed for invalidation of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election. The bench dismissed Mr. Odinga’s plea by a uniform ruling.

In the second case, judges upheld the election of Mrs. Mary Wambui as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Othaya constituency-again, by a uniform ruling. In both cases, the presiding judges of the Supreme Court rendered uniform ruling which was hurriedly presented by the President of the Supreme Court Dr. Willy Mutunga.

It is worrisome that in both cases, there wasn’t an affirming or dissenting opinion. Judges made a uniform decision. Don’t get me wrong. Fundamental uniformity is acceptable. But insubstantial uniform pattern of delivering judgment in my opinion is a disturbing trend that should be discouraged. It is simplistic, substandard and fallacious. It goes against the doctrine of independent thought process in the light of individualistic interpretation of the law and legal acumen of judges.

Although we have one constitution, not all judges and lawyers read every single article from a monolithic point of view. As a matter of principle, dissention and pluralistic interpretation of the law should be embraced by our honorable judges when determining the merits and demerits of each case. Uniform ruling casts our “learned friends” of the Supreme Court in bad light as people whose thinking capacity is one, same and confined.

By and large, skewed trend of uniformization of the Supreme Court is a suspicious way of delivering justice and should be discarded. Being the court of the last resort, I expect each judge to articulate a well-researched independent minded judgment with a detailed explanation on how and why a specific decision was made. I expect each judge to look Kenyans in the eye and read their affirming or dissenting judgment as members of the public read their body language.

Moreover, I expect each judge to explore and express the legal gifts of diversity in the process of interpreting laws and delivering justice. As a matter of fact, the magic number 7 of the judges of the Supreme Court is not in in vain. It was intentionally constituted to break a tie in the event of a deadlocked judgment.

Yet, instead of effectively using the magic number 7, judges of the Supreme Court prefer an easy exit strategy of “cooking” a uniform judgment. Such skewed, lazy and cowardice pattern of making a ruling like village elders is detrimental to justice and severs the independence of the judiciary.

By Jacktone Ambuka-a Kenyan residing and working at Philadelphia, USA. Email: [email protected]

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