Grand Mullah, Havi hit back at CJ Koome over presidential poll petition gag order
Chief Justice Martha Koome’s amendment of rules that govern proceedings of the Supreme Court to block lawyers and litigants from making comments on a presidential election petition has been met with immediate opposition from renowned lawyers.
In the amended rules, the Chief Justice has banned litigants, their advocates and agents from expressing their opinions or predicting the outcome of a case involving the election of the President.
“Upon commencement of the hearing of the petition by the court, litigants, their advocates and advocates’ agents shall refrain from expressing their opinion on merit, demerit or predict the outcome of the petition in any manner that would prejudice or impede court proceedings, until judgment is delivered,” reads the new rule.
A breach of the direction will amount to contempt of court, it says, meaning those found culpable of breaching the rule will be punished. The amendment, which has since been gazetted, comes slightly over two months to the August 9 General Election.
The amendment appears to have been triggered by social media comments and predictions by top advocates and other Kenyans in relation to the outcome of the Constitutional Amendment Bill – the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) case.
The CJ had castigated Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi, former Lawyer Society of Kenya (LSK) President Nelson Havi and Esther Ang’awa for commenting about the possible outcome of the case through social media.
But while reacting to the amendment, Mr Havi promised to challenge the notice in court.
“I will file a petition in the High Court to have this retrogressive, unlawful, and unconstitutional legal notice by CJ Martha Koome quashed and declared null and void. The Judiciary cannot be the adjudicator and the legislator at the same time, worse still, in its own cause,” Havi said.
On the other hand, Ahmednasir only termed the amendment as sad.
“Sad… CJ KOOME can do better!!!” he tweeted.