ouster clause

“Tainted” judicial history remembered in new Kenya judgement

WITH a reminder of what has at times been the unsavoury past of Kenya’s judiciary, the constitutional court has declined to intervene in the dismissal of a number of magistrates who served during the pre-constitutional era. As Carmel Rickard explains, the Kenyan courts are barred by an ouster clause from considering such dismissals. In this case the court deferred to the provision, at the same time spelling out the ouster’s limits and ensuring that in the case before it those limits were not transgressed.

THE timing of this judgment is particularly significant. It comes as tension builds between Kenya’s judiciary and other arms of government over judges’ powers to consider the meaning and application of statutes and to act when there are breaches of the constitution. Just a few days ago, for example, some MPs said judges should stop their “constant meddling” in the affairs of the legislature.

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