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Push and Pull between Arms of Government Heightens, and Could get Ugly

As the country marks one year since it held a divisive General Election, the jinx of sibling rivalry continues to dog the three arms of government. On one side, the Executive is accused of ganging up with the Legislature in what observers think is a bid to fulfill Jubilee’s promise to revisit, after the Supreme Court ruling that nullified the presidential election results in the August 8 General Election in which President Uhuru Kenyatta had been declared winner.

Parliament, on the other hand, has been squabbling with Judiciary over a ruling issued by the latter injucting the former. And the recent admission by the Chief Justice David Maraga that critical services in Judiciary had ground to a halt thanks to budget cuts, lend credence to these accusations against the other two arms of government.

In a television interview days after he had raised the alarm over Judiciary budget cuts, Maraga alluded to frustrations from the Legislature when he claimed he had made several attempts to contact Parliament to address the issue but his calls went unanswered. In the interview, Maraga expressed fears that the National Assembly may have been roped in, “revisit” talk which he blamed for the substantial cut of the Judiciary’s budget from Sh31 billion to Sh17.3 billion.

To add to Judiciary’s frustra tions, Maraga accused Treasury of a lethargic response in Judiciary’s attempts to extend to December 2020 a World Bank programme to build courts. Corruption cases And if yesterday’s directive from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji to have graft claims in the Judiciary investigated is anything to go by, the latter’s troubles appear to be far from over. The move however, seems to resonate with the maxim that “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.” But coming at a time when the Executive led by President Uhuru is keen on rooting out corruption, accusations of frustrating the Judiciary would be counterproductive, if proven true. In the past few weeks, the courts have been the point of focus as they continue to handle high profile cases touching on plunder of public resources. And if the Jubilee government is serious, observers opine that it would be in its interest to address budgetary concerns raised by the Judiciary to ensure the purge is successful.

Legal challenges On the other hand, tension between Judiciary and Parliament peaked in June after National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi rebuked the Judiciary for quashing a law conferring immunity on parliamentary investigations. The Speaker said by making the ruling, the Judiciary was seeking to paralyse Parliament’s operations. He was responding to a ruling on May 21 by Justice John Mativo who nullified a provision shielding Parliament’s business and decisions. He nullified the law granting MPs immunity from legal challenges to their decisions.

The Speaker said interference by the Judiciary in the functions of Parliamentary committees would paralyse House operations. The feud gained momentum in April after Muturi warned that institutions that do not submit to House scrutiny would be denied funding. He was angered by another court ruling that overruled Parliament’s censure of Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on grounds that MPs violated an order stopping the debate on the matter. He also accused JSC of failure to recognise the oversight powers of Parliament when it snubbed summons to appear before it.