The Supreme Court of Kenya is the highest court in Kenya. It is established under Article 163 of the Kenyan Constitution. As the highest court in the nation, its decisions are binding and set precedent on all other courts in the country. List of Supreme Court of Kenya Judges as 2022
The Supreme Court has both original and appellate jurisdiction, as well as the jurisdiction to give advisory opinions. The Court has exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and determine disputes relating to the elections to the office of president arising under Article 140 of the Constitution. It has appellate jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from the Court of Appeal and any other court or tribunal as prescribed by national legislation.
Appeals can only be as a matter of right, where the case involves interpretation or application of the Constitution or a matter certified by the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal as one that involves a matter of general public importance. The Supreme Court may review a certification by the Court of Appeal and either affirm, vary or overturn it.
The Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to render advisory opinion at the request of the National Government, any state organ, or any county government with respect to any matter concerning County Governments. It can also determine the validity of a declaration of a state of emergency, an extension of such a declaration, or any legislation enacted in consequence of a declaration of a state of emergency.
Objective of the Court
These are provided for in Section 3 of the Supreme Court Act, No. 7, of 2011.
- Assert the supremacy of the Constitution and the sovereignty of the people of Kenya
- Provide authoritative and impartial interpretation of the Constitution
- Develop rich jurisprudence that respects Kenya’s history and traditions and facilitates its social, economic and political growth
- Enable important constitutional and other legal matters, especially matters on transition to the new Constitution be determined with due regard to the circumstances, history and cultures of the people
- Improve access to justice
Composition and membership
The Supreme Court is made up of seven judges: the Chief Justice, who is the President of the Court, the Deputy Chief Justice, who is the Vice-president of the Court, and five other judges.
Like all other judges of the superior courts in Kenya, Judges of the Supreme Court – including the Chief Justice – serve until mandatory retirement at 70 years. However, an individual cannot serve as the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court for more than 10 years even if s/he has not reached 70. In the event that a person serves the mandatory ten years as Chief Justice before turning 70, the individual is to retire from the position of Chief Justice but may opt to continue serving as an associate justice, even though this may raise the membership of the court above seven.
The Supreme Court is properly constituted for purposes of its proceedings with five judges sitting. However, two judges can handle interlocutory applications.
List of Supreme Court of Kenya Judges as 2022
The following are the current members of the Supreme Court:
Hon. Lady Justice Martha Koome – Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court
Martha Karambu Koome (born 3 June 1960) is a Kenyan advocate, currently serving as the Chief Justice of Kenya, and is the first woman to occupy the post.
Hon. Lady Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu – Deputy Chief Justice and Vice President of the Supreme Court
Philomena Mbete Mwilu (born 15 April 1958) is a Kenyan lawyer and judge, who has served as the Deputy Chief Justice of Kenya and Vice President of the Supreme Court of Kenya since 28 October 2016. Following the retirement of Chief Justice David Maraga, and before Martha Koome was appointed as the Chief Justice, she served as Acting Chief Justice and President of the Supreme court of Kenya from 11 January 2021 to 19 May 2021, making her the first woman to hold that office.
Mohamed Khadhar Ibrahim is a Kenyan lawyer and an Associate justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya. In June 2012, he was among 5 Justices nominated to the Supreme Court of Kenya by the Judicial Service Commission (Kenya) which had interviewed 25 applicants.
Smokin Wanjala is a Kenyan lawyer and an Associate justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya. He holds a Ph.D. in law from University of Ghent, Belgium. He also holds a Master of Laws degree from the Columbia University in the United States and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Nairobi. Wanjala lectured at the University of Nairobi for 15 years, where he taught international law, international human rights law, land law and criminal law.
Njoki Susanna Ndung’u is a Kenyan lawyer and an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from University of Nairobi and a Master of Laws (LLM) in human rights and civil liberties from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. She was born in 1965.
Isaac Lenaola is a Kenyan lawyer and judge, who has served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya, since 28 October 2016.
Justice William Ouko is a Kenyan lawyer and Judge with a wealth of experience in judicial and administrative service spanning over 34 years. He is currently serving as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Kenya. He was nominated by the Judicial Service Commission for the seat of a Judge of the Supreme Court on 5 May 2021. On 14 May 2021, he was appointed to the position by the President of the Republic of Kenya H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, CGH and was subsequently sworn in on 21 May 2021. He served as the President of the Court of Appeal prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, a position to which he was elected on 9 March 2018.
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