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We have powers to gag you, CJ Maraga tells MPs

Chief Justice David Maraga

Chief Justice David Maraga has ended debate on alleged Judiciary’s interference with parliamentary proceedings, saying courts have a constitutional right to gag legislative organs when they are handling quasi-judicial proceedings.

Justice Maraga waded in a debate that has seen the Legislature clash with the Judiciary over the principle of separation of powers, ruling that the High Court has authority to stop anybody handling a quasi-judicial duty, if convinced that the right process of justice is not followed.

He said the decision to gag such bodies is enshrined in the Constitution, and Houses of Parliament must obey court orders that stop them from oversight roles, in the interest of justice.

Speaking when he closed the Legislative Summit that brought together Senate and County Assembly members, he said courts will not hesitate to interfere with tribunals, houses of Parliament or an executive body handling quasi-judicial duty if they feel the process could lead to infringement of one’s right.

“At times I am surprised that some of those making claims that Judiciary cannot interfere with the Legislature are lawyers. When Parliament or county assembly is conducting quasi-judicial functions, Article 165 of the Constitution gives the High Court powers to stop it if the process is not being followed,” he said.

Recently, the courts came under attack after they stopped the Budget Committee of the National Assembly from hearing a petition seeking the removal of Auditor General, with MPs arguing that Judiciary cannot stop the Legislature from undertaking its duties.

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Similar attacks were made on the courts by Senators when the High Court stopped impeachment proceedings against Embu Governor Martin Wambora.

But an unapologetic CJ defended the judicial officers, saying they were within their powers in stopping the processes, as the High Court is supreme to the organs undertaking quasi-judicial roles.

Maraga also reiterated caution given by his Deputy Philomena Mwilu that politicians who will violate the law during their campaigns will be expeditiously prosecuted.

“As you campaign, know that we have a country to live in. If you are arrested and brought to us, we will keep everything else aside and hear them; and if we are given evidence we will jail you,” Maraga said.

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