It is this declaration that now gives the judicial officers’ employer a go-ahead to start the process of replacing Maraga who retired on January 11 for the position that comes with prestige and hefty allowances, as a number of sitting judges and lawyers prepare to make their applications.
Acting CJ Philomena Mwilu made the declaration on Monday in a special gazette notice as the acting head of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), an institution that has the mandate to make such a declaration under the JSC Act.
Justice Mwilu stated in the document that candidates interested in the job should visit the Judiciary’s website for instructions on how to apply.
When the late retired CJ Evan Gicheru completed the six months transition in 2011 after the promulgation of the Constitution, he opted to retire instead of being subjected to the process of vetting in order to serve on the Court of Appeal.
And in exercising powers under schedule sixth of the Constitution, in consultation with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former President Mwai Kibaki appointed Dr Willy Mutunga in June 2011 following a competitively and publicly conducted interview under the new Constitution.
Mutunga implemented reforms at the Judiciary and in his bid to avoid a crisis that could have risen if the August 2017 election was to be held without a substantive office holder, he opted to retire from office early.
Without a deputy to hand over to following the retirement of DCJ Rawal, Mutunga handed over the office to Justice Mohamed Ibrahim who was the senior most in the Supreme Court.
The law only provides that in the event of the removal, resignation or death of the CJ, the DCJ shall act as the CJ for a period not exceeding six months pending the appointment of a new CJ in accordance with the Constitution.
It is after Mutunga’s term that 10 candidates applied to replace him, a race that Maraga won and was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta as the 14th CJ of Kenya and the second under the current Constitution.
The Constitution provides that a CJ shall retire from office after serving a term of 10 years or on reaching the age of 70.
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