The Law Society of Kenya has filed a case challenging the legality of an Executive order issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta that allegedly sought to place the Judiciary, commissions as well as independent offices under ministries and government departments.
In the court documents, the Attorney General and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua are listed as respondents and the Judicial Service Commission as an interested party.
Through lawyers Manwa Hosea and Arnold Ochieng, the LSK terms the move as unconstitutional since the executive arm of government cannot restructure or assign functions to other arms and independent commissions.
The LSK claims the disputed Executive order No. 1 of 2020 offends the principles of the constitution, doctrine of separation of powers, democracy and independence of constitutional offices.
“Where the law exhaustively provides for the jurisdiction of a body or an authority, it must operate within the limits of the law and ought not to expand its jurisdiction through administrative crafts or innovation,” said the LSK.
The lawyers’ lobby has termed the case a public interest matter and wants the High Court to urgently intervene by suspending the implementation of the Executive order.
The institutions affected by the disputed directive include the Judiciary, the Public Service Commission, the Teachers Service Commission, the National Police Service Commission, the Parliamentary Service Commission, the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, the National Land Commission and the Office of the Controller of Budget.
Others are the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Commission on Revenue Allocation, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights as well as the National Gender and Equality Commission.
According to the LSK, the May 11 Executive Order titled ‘The Organisation of Government’ can impair the independence of the Judiciary, commissions and independent offices.
The order, the LSK argues, places the various tribunals, constitutional commissions and independent agencies under the control and direction of the respective departments.
Justice James Makau certified the matter as urgent and ordered that the case be mentioned on June 30 for further directions.