CJ wants rules on poll petition changed

Chief Justice David Maraga has asked MPs to approve a plan to stop the Supreme Court from handling election petitions from lower courts, which was a common occurrence under the administration of his predecessor.

Justice Maraga has also proposed the expansion of the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal to handle the anticipated disputes arising out of the nominations, which in some areas are considered even more critical than the actual elections.

The head of the Judiciary said the proposed changes on the handling of election petitions would prevent cases where election petitions take longer than one year to resolve.

“I know MPs who lose would want to try again. If you look at the law, the idea is to have all petitions dealt within one year,” Justice Maraga told MPs at a meeting with the National Assembly leadership at the Serena Beach Resort and Spa in Mombasa.

The proposed changes would have petitions from the elections of members of county assemblies stopped at the High Court after first being handled by a magistrates court.

Petitions on MPs, woman representatives, senators and governors, would be handled at the High Court and then at the Court of Appeal as the final judicial stop.

“If we don’t do this, we’ll have appeals from MCAs and MPs going all the way to the Supreme Court,” Justice Maraga said.

He said limiting the extent to which an election petition can be handled would not be unique to Kenya.

If the changes are approved, the Supreme Court would only have to deal with a petition on a presidential election.

Justice Maraga also proposed to have temporary members in the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal to help deal with the anticipated issues arising out of the nominations.

The tribunal currently has seven members.

Political parties are expected to hold nominations between April 13 and 26.

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