Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kaplan Rawal Receive Threats On Her Life


After the High Court nullified five parliamentary elections in a row, a judge has withdrawn from hearing a petition after being threatened by anonymous people.

Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal pulled out of the petition challenging the election of Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua of the Party of National Unity after receiving threatening messages through her mobile phone.

Justice Rawal said the contents of the threatening and offensive messages, which

Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal
she has been

receiving since Sunday, suggest to her they were authored by Mbugua or someone else on his behalf. The judge communicated her decision to lawyers in a closed-door session in her chambers at the Nairobi Law Courts. She later ordered police to investigate the threats. "I shall refrain from disclosing the contents, but suffice to state that they have hurt me deeply as they were meant to injure my honesty and integrity as a judge of this court," Rawal said.

She added: "It was not only an insult on my integrity, but also on the Judiciary and this court. My conscience as a person and judge is absolutely clear and clean."

The latest threat reached her Tuesday evening as she was preparing a ruling she delivered Wednesday. The senders informed her they knew the content of the ruling she was writing and that she was biased in presiding over the case. They also told her they knew her residence and would get her.

Incomplete tally

ODM candidate in the parliamentary election Ibrahim Ahmed filed the petition against Mbugua. The Kamukunji parliamentary election was called off by the Electoral Commission in December 2007 after chaos erupted at Shauri Moyo tallying centre. Election officials had completed tallying results from 135 of 157 polling stations. The constituency had 25 parliamentary candidates. Mbugua moved to court and obtained orders to have the ECK compelled to complete the process.

In August 2008 the court quashed the decision to call off the tallying and ordered the defunct Electoral Commission to complete the tallying and announce the winner.

Mbugua was declared winner with 22,614 votes. Ahmed garnered 16,604 votes and third candidate Abdi Yusuf Hassan got 7,663.

Ahmed immediately filed a petition through lawyer Stephen Owino, against Mbugua, the returning officer Pricilla Wamiru and ECK.

Mbugua had since made several applications through his lawyer Kibe Mungai to have the petition struck out, but Rawal dismissed all of them. Yesterday he lost yet another application to have the proceedings suspended pending an appeal he had filed at the Court of Appeal against an earlier ruling.

The Interim Independent Commission (IIEC) represented by lawyer Stephen Adere has taken a neutral position in the petition and distanced itself from the irregularities ECK committed.

Rawal said she had not been cowed and was not giving in to the threats. "It is only with a view that with the hurt it has inflicted, it shall not be seen proper for me to continue hearing this petition," she explained.

Vested interests

She said it was a sad day for the Judiciary that, "a person with vested interests can go to this extent by trying to threaten a judicial officer in this manner."

She explained that whichever way she decided the petition she would be perceived as having acted on the basis of the threats, adding it would be appropriate for the petition to be heard by another judge.

The file will now be taken back to the Chief Justice to appoint another judge and probably proceed from where Rawal left.

Lawyer Mungai said he was embarrassed by the turn of events while Owino said he was saddened. The lawyers said those issuing the threats had achieved their intentions.

Last month Rawal nullified the election of Dickson Mwangi Wathika as Makadara MP ruling that the poll was not free and fair. The seat has since been declared vacant even as Wathika’s appeal remains pending at the Court of Appeal.

Mbugua’s petition is among many still pending in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

The High Court has also nullified the elections of former Transport minister Ali Chirau Mwakwere (Matuga), Mr Omingo Magara (South Mugirango), Joel Onyancha (Bomachoge), and Mr George Thuo (Juja).

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