Maraga

Maraga Criticizes BBI Proposal On His Last Day in Office

Chief Justice David Maraga has criticized the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) proposal to create an independent office of the Judiciary Ombudsman.

In his last presser on Friday, December 11, the CJ warned that the creation of the Ombudsman office could cause a direct conflict and duplication of roles between the Ombudsman and the JSC.

Maraga, who leaves office today, proposed that the Judiciary Ombudsman be appointed by the JSC instead of the President as proposed in the BBI Bill.

The CJ further said the country may witness a constitutional crisis in cases where parallel decisions are made by the JSC as well as the Ombudsman.

“The first BBI taskforce report published in 2019 offered a broad recommendation that strong reforms need to be undertaken to increase public confidence in the Judiciary. In doing so, the taskforce acknowledged the need to guard the independence of the Judiciary while also seeking to enhance its accountability to the people of Kenya.”

Chief Justice David Maraga addresses the press on December 11, 2020. Photo/Courtesy

“The BBI steering committee, in its final report, has made far-reaching recommendations regarding the creation of the Judiciary Ombudsman who shall be appointed by the President with the approval of the Senate. Several concerns arise from this proposal.”

““The constitution vests in the JSC, an independent commission, the responsibility of ensuring the independence and accountability of the Judiciary. The result of the BBI proposal is a direct conflict and duplication of roles between the Ombudsman and the JSC. The risk of parallel complaints being instituted with the JSC as well as the Ombudsman and the possibility of different decisions being arrived at is real and may result in a constitutional quagmire,” Maraga stated.

He also noted that there already exists an office of the judicial ombudsman appointed by the JSC through which the public can voice complaints recommending that it should instead be enhanced, strengthened and made accessible to all members of the public rather than creating a new office.

Raila and Uhuru during BBI unveiling in Kisii
President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga as they received the BBI report at the Kisii State Lodge on October 21. 2020. Photo/Courtesy

“It is for this reason that JSC recommends, among others, that the structure and functions of the Ombudsman, as proposed in the BBI report and the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment Bill) be abandoned and instead the Judiciary Ombudsman be appointed by the JSC with a mandate to conduct investigations and report to JSC, which will take appropriate action authorised by the Constitution” he noted.

Maraga will be proceeding on terminal leave today ahead of his retirement in January after serving in the top judicial office since 2016.

During his tenure, he has never feared to defend the independence of the Judiciary and on a number of occasions accused the executive of frustrating and undermining judicial operations for his hard stance against alleged external interference.

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