The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has started the recruitment of the next Chief Justice following the retirement of Mr David Maraga on January 12.

In a gazette notice published on Monday, acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu declared the office vacant.
The Chief Justice, the third one after the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010, will get a monthly salary of Sh900,000 to Sh1,327,888.
The Salaries and remuneration Commission (SRC) capped the CJ’s pay at Sh1.3 million in 2017, with an entry package of Sh990,000 without allowances.

The Chief Justice is the head of the Judiciary, the president of the Supreme Court, the chairperson of the JSC and the link between the Judiciary and other arms of the government.
To qualify for the job, one must be an advocate of the High Court and have 15 years’ experience as a judge of the High Court or the Court of Appeal.
The candidate must also have 15 years’ experience as a distinguished academic, judicial officer, legal practitioner or experience in another relevant field.

The notice said the interested candidates must have high moral character, integrity and impartiality and meet the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution on leadership and integrity.

Among those who have expressed interest in the post are Senior Counsel and former Director of Public Prosecutions Philip Murgor, Justice Mwilu, Court of Appeal President William Ouko, Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki and his predecessor Githu Muigai.
Justice Maraga beat 13 other candidates in 2016 to succeed Justice Willy Mutunga, who had retired a year earlier.
“Following publication of the notice, the search for a candidate, and the recruitment and its attendant timelines, will be governed and conducted in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the law,” the commission said in a statement after a meeting on Friday last week.

The JSC had planned to start the process in October, six months to the retirement of Mr Maraga, but the move was thwarted by the CJ and some members of the commission, who argued that it was against the law.
Though Justice Maraga had agreed with the initial plans, he cancelled the meeting a few hours before the commission members met.
The law does not allow the advance recruitment of the CJ.
Section 30 of Judicial Service Act read with the first schedule say the position cannot be advertised until it falls vacant.
The Act anticipates a vacancy when the holder resigns, dies, retires, attains the age of 70 or is removed as prescribed by law.
The JSC Act provides for the transparent recruitment of judges, including the CJ.
The commission usually constitutes a selection panel consisting at least five members.

The function of the selection panel is to shortlist persons for nomination by the commission.
The commission also advertised the position of one Supreme Court judge, which has remained vacant since Justice Jackton Ojwang left in February last year, upon attaining the retirement age of 70.