The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has written to Chief Justice Martha Koome faulting the recently gazetted presidential election petition laws.
Through the President Eric Theuri, the lawyers are now urging the apex court to withdraw the impugned amendments within the next seven days to allow for broader consultations.
The LSK further notes that they shall be constrained to move to court to challenge the amendments in the event that their demands are not met
The amendments outlaw public comments by advocates and litigants on a presidential election petition once it is filed at the Supreme Court and while it is still being heard.
The society further argues that the amendments as currently enacted would create more disharmony and open up the Supreme Court to further scrutiny and possible ridicule.
“The amendments further provide that a breach of the provision would amount to contempt of court. We recognize that the courts have the inherent powers to punish for contempt of court but the amendments as currently enacted would create more disharmony and open up the Supreme Court to further scrutiny and possible ridicule” LSK states.
The LSK boss observes that the introduction of contempt proceedings at the Supreme Court where a party has no right of appeal reminds them of a painful era in the history of the Judiciary that is an anti-thesis of their current democratic Constitutional order.
“The Law Society is concerned as to the standards the court would employ to determine the threshold of comments that ‘prejudice or impede court proceedings’. It is worrisome that the amendments as enacted did not go through public participation wherein the Society and its members would have given their input on the best practices in view of the intended objectives’ said Theuri in a statement.
The changes to Rule 18 sub-rule (4) bar litigants, advocates and their agent’s from discussing the merit, demerits or predicting the outcome of the petition in any manner that would prejudice or impede court proceedings until after the delivery of judgment.