A petition has been lodged with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), calling for the removal of Chief Justice Martha Koome from her position.
The petitioner, Michael Kojo Otieno, alleges that CJ Koome violated the law in the appointment of members to the Tax Appeals Tribunal, sparking a controversy with potential implications for her tenure.
At the heart of the petition is the claim that CJ Koome, in her role, failed to adhere to legal provisions while appointing members to the Tax Appeal Tribunal.
The central contention revolves around the current composition of the Tribunal, which exceeds the prescribed maximum of 20 members as outlined in Section 4(b) of the Tax Appeal Tribunal (Amendment) Act 2022.
Lack of transparency
The petitioner, Kojo, asserts that during the appointment, CJ Koome demonstrated a lack of honesty in executing the powers bestowed upon her by the Tax Appeals Tribunal Act.
The petition alleges that these actions were not in alignment with the responsibilities vested in the Chief Justice as a judicial officer.
A key argument in the petition cites a lack of transparency and diligence in the appointment, coupled with accusations of discrimination against individuals who had applied to serve on the Tax Appeals Tribunal.
Kojo contends that exceeding the stipulated number of members directly contravened Section 4b of the Tax Appeals Tribunal Act.
The petitioner argues that, based on these reasons and arguments, CJ Koome is deemed unfit to hold office and should face removal.
The petition asserts that the President of the Supreme Court’s actions in the appointment of members to the Tax Appeals Tribunal are not only illegal but also null and void, rendering her unfit for public office.
As the petition unfolds before the JSC, it not only focuses on the alleged irregularities but also delves into the broader implications for the Chief Justice’s tenure and the judicial system’s integrity.
Tax Appeals Tribunal
The Tax Appeals Tribunal is tasked with adjudicating appeals filed by individuals contesting decisions made by the commissioner on tax matters arising under the provisions of tax law in the country.
This tribunal plays a crucial role in addressing tax-related concerns raised by taxpayers, including both individuals and corporate entities, as well as tax agents, advocates, and the Kenya Revenue Authority.
In May 2023, Chief Justice Koome appointed a new set of members to the Tax Appeals Tribunal, to serve for a three-year term. The newly appointed members were Ololchike Sankale Spencer, Ongeti Walter Juma, Diriye Abdullahi Mohamed, Ogaga Gloria Awuor, and Vikiru Timothy Bunyali.
Other members were Terer Boniface Kibiy, Komolo Erick Onyango, Ng’ang’a Eunice Njeri, Muga Christine Anyango, Makau Martin Mutiso James, Kashindi George Ashiono, and Bernadette Muthira Gitari.