Archive 1999


Saturday, January 9, 1999

Kuloba probe on, case taken


Bribery allegations against Mr Justice Richard Kuloba will be investigated by the Attorney-General, the Chief Justice ruled yesterday.

He also disqualified Justice Kuloba from hearing the Duty Free case and re-assigned it to Kisii resident judge, Mr Justice Tom Mbaluto.

The hearing will start afresh on Monday.

The AG will also be required to establish whether perjury may have been committed.

"I have carefully considered the counsel's submissions (and) in the result, the application by the plaintiff (Kamlesh Pattni) for stay of execution shall be heard de novo by Justice Mbaluto on January 11," Mr Justice Chesoni said.

(Mr Justice Mbaluto will best be remembered for his ruling which postponed the 1992 General Election in a case filed by the late Jaramogi Odinga).

The chairman of World Duty Free, Mr Nassir Ibrahim Ali, is locked in a legal tussle with Mr Pattni over ownership of the Kenya Duty Free shopping complex.

When the case came up before Justice Kuloba at Milimani commercial court last Wedneday, Mr Ali claimed the judge had received Sh5 million from Mr Pattni as a bribe.

Mr Ali's lawyer, Ochieng' Oduol, asked the judge to disqualify himself from hearing the case because he would not be impartial.

Following the allegations, Justice Kuloba announced he would hear evidence about his own integrity and summoned the CJ, Mr Charles Njonjo, the CID director and an assistant commissioner of police to testify about what they knew of Mr Ali's claims.

But the Chief Justice called the file and summoned the parties to appear before him on Thursday morning.

Mr Pattni was represented by Mr A.R. Rebello, while Mr Amos Omolo appeared for a former receiver of Kenya Duty Free shopping complex, Mr Charles Kariuki Gathungo.

The case was heard in private, with only the lawyers involved allowed in in the CJ's chambers. The ruling was given in similar fashion.

Mr Chesoni ordered the AG to direct the Commissioner of Police in terms of the powers conferred upon him by section 26 (4) of the Constitution for investigation to be carried out expeditiously to establish evidence of:

the alleged corruption;

perjury contrary to section 108 of the Penal Code;

conspiracy to defeat justice contrary to section 117 of the Penal Code; and

any other offence the investigation may disclose.

Mr Justice Chesoni ordered that immediate action be taken under the law and the case be mentioned in court at 9.30 am on January 22, to record the progress of the investigation and action taken if any.

At the same time, appellate court judge P.K. Tunoi yesterday allowed an application by Mr Pattni for stay of proceedings to be heard under certificate of urgency on January 14.

Meanwhile, the Law Society of Kenya yesterday said it was dissatisfied with the ruling of Chief Justice Chesoni directing the AG to investigate a judge over bribery allegations.

The chairman, Mr Nzamba Kitonga, said it was in order for the CJ to withdraw the Kenya Duty Free case file from Mr Justice Kuloba and place it before another judge.

"But we did not agree with the decision that the AG should investigate the matter because the Constitution sets out the procedure to be followed where there are allegations of misconduct against a judge," Mr Kitonga said.

He said that would amount to the judiciary giving the executive power to probe it contrary to the spirit of judicial independence and separation of powers.

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