The die is cast for disgraced High Court judge Joseph Mbalu Mutava. The suspended judicial officer will now await his marching orders from President Uhuru Kenyatta who received the recommendation from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to sack him on September 20, 2016.
The Supreme Court, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, yesterday upheld the findings by the seven-member judicial tribunal under the direction of Chief Justice David Maraga that Mutava (pictured) was unfit to hold office.
“We hold that Justice Mutava’s conduct amounted to gross misconduct contrary to Article 168 (1)(e) of the Constitution. For avoidance of doubt, the tribunal’s recommendation to the President for his removal from office under Article 168 (7) (b) of the Constitution is affirmed,” the five-member bench ruled.
During the hearing of his appeal in the highest court in the land on July 18, last year, Mutava had protested that the tribunal was “openly biased, defied the rules of natural justice and occasioned him miscarriage of justice.”
He had claimed that the tribunal had compelled his wife — Kibwezi West MP Jessica Mbalu — to give evidence in public regarding allegations of impropriety that were under investigation.
Lawyers Kyalo Mbobu and Philip Nyachoti argued that Mutava was denied a fair trial after his objections against procedural defects were dismissed, thereby compromising the judicial proceedings.
“Further, the three complaints under investigations had been withdrawn by his accusers before the tribunal started its assignment,” they said.
The two lawyers had claimed that the evidence presented to the tribunal by 25 witnesses did not prove Justice Mutava guilty of gross misconduct to warrant recommendation of his removal from the bench.
Senior State Counsel Emmanuel Bitta, who represented the tribunal, said Mutava was accorded an opportunity to cross-examine all witnesses and was presented with documentary evidence to enable him to prepare his defence.
Bitta said the tribunal wrote to the Clerk of the National Assembly and stated that Mutava’s wife was required to confirm whether she had communicated with one of the alleged complainants, businesswoman Rose Mbithe, who later denied having corrupted the judge.
Mutava was suspended on May 31, 2013 after sufficient evidence against him was found on three complaints of corruption and misconduct.