“In obedience to God’s Command and Will, and guided by the Constitution, to serve humanity, and Kenyans in particular, with dedication, honesty and integrity, striving at all times to uphold the rule of law and do justice to all.”
This was David Maraga’s objective when he presented his CV before the Judicial Service Commission interview panel a year ago for the post of Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court, which he now holds.
A staunch Seventh Day Adventist (SDA), the CJ has set a record as the first judge, with his other five colleagues, to nullify an election of a serving African Head of State.
He was born on January 12, 1951, in present day Nyamira County. Married with three children, Maraga describes himself as an elder and one of the Bible-Study leaders of the SDA Church.
He set the record straight about his faith. “I am a God fearing person who believes in, and endeavours to do, justice to all irrespective of their status in society,” he said in his personal profile he presented to the JSC.
“I have a great passion for upholding the rule of law, which is an essential ingredient for social justice, political stability and economic development. I value people as a core resource and have had great pleasure and success in building teams towards effective justice delivery.”
He surprised many during the panel to vet judges and magistrates when he swore with a Bible that he had never taken a bribe in his life as a judge. Dignified impression “Get me that Bible. In the name of God and the creator of the entire universe, I have never taken a bribe and I will never take a bribe,” he told a stunned Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board chairman Sharad Rao and his members.
The board was established by the Government as a result of the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Act, 2011, which was passed by Parliament to create the necessary institutional framework and guidelines for the vetting of judges and magistrates.
In its determination dated 21st September 2012, the Rao-ed board unanimously dismissed all the complaints made against him.
“At his interview with the Board, the Judge made a confident, forceful and dignified impression. The Board received positive reports from the legal profession in the Rift Valley, who complimented the Judge on his punctuality, seriousness with which he approached cases, and his control of the courtroom,” read a report by the board.
As a senior legal professional with extensive experience in the Bar and on the Bench, and with a nascent but growing interest in academia, CJ Maraga was admitted to the Roll of Advocates 39 years ago, and has served as judge of Kenya’s two Superior Courts for over 14 years.
He holds a Master of Laws Degree (LLM) from the University of Nairobi; a Bachelor of Laws Degree (LLB) from the same University, and a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Kenya School of Law, leading to his admission onto the Roll of Advocates in October 1978.
He is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, London and the Law Society of Kenya.
Both in legal practice and on the Bench the CJ has made a significant contribution to local and international jurisprudence as demonstrated in the Anguka, Julie Ward, Choge and Mohammed Harshi Cases, among others detailed herein below.
“As at 2012, about twenty five (25) of my judgments had been reported by the National Council for Law Reporting and many more are pending publication,” he says.
Among the cases he has handled that have had a direct bearing on the rule of law include the Court of Appeal ruling on the Executive of Kisumua & Others v. Ann Atieno Adul & Others, CA Nos. 17 & 18 of 2015 (Consolidated). It was precedent setting constitutional authority on impeachment of County Assembly Speaker.
“This decision helped to minimise impeachment motions in County Assemblies.”
In 2013, he nullified a case involving Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula and Musikari Kombo on grounds of bribery.
“In the D. Royal Media Services Ltd & Others vs Attorney General & Others, CA No.4 of 201, this decision helped to settle a major Constitutional Freedom of the Media Regional Terrestrial Broadcasting Digital Migration and Broadcasting Signal Distribution Licensing,” he writes in his personal profile.
He also handled an election petition filed involving Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho; HC Election Petition No. 1 of 2005—Hassan Joho vs Hotham Nyange & Others—Precedent setting on, inter alia, the standard of proof in Election Petitions.
Besides his jurisprudence development, the CJ is also an author. He authored a Chapter on “Scrutiny in Electoral Disputes: A Kenyan Judicial Perspective,” in the Book: ‘Balancing the Scales of Electoral Justice: Resolving Dispute from the 2013 Elections in Kenya and the Emerging Jurisprudence.’
Edited by Dr Collins Odote and Dr Linda Musumba; February 2016. He has supported Moi Children’s Home since the 1980s and St Barnados Children’s Home, Nairobi since 1996.
Profile by Standard Media Kenya