Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said corruption in the Judiciary has reached alarming levels and warned that judges and magistrates found engaging in the vice would be sacked.
He said the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is currently investigating suspected cases of bribe taking.
“If we continue to cover up for and protect colleagues mired in this vice, and allow them to tar everybody else, if we continue to engage in this immoral sport, then I can assure you the vetting will be back and this time in a more vicious form than the previous one,” said Dr Mutunga on Monday in Mombasa where he addressed over 200 judges drawn from the High, Appeal and Supreme courts.
Whereas the JSC has a duty to protect judges from petty harassment, he said, it cannot defend them against serious integrity issues.
“JSC takes no pleasure in subjecting judges to disciplinary processes but will not flinch in acting tough on these integrity concerns,” he told the gathering.
“The driver for corruption cannot, therefore, be poverty unless it is poverty of self-respect and honour. Bribe-taking is one of the most despicable expressions of self-disrespect that I have ever seen and it must stop.”
Dr Mutunga told judges that corruption erodes personal esteem and public confidence in the Judiciary.
“I have never understood why a judge, who is very well paid, enjoys security of tenure, has highly concessionary mortgage and car loan facilities, has an excellent medical cover, has probably had a previously successful career as an aocate or scholar for over a decade, should indulge in a practice so demeaning at both professional and personal level.”
He also called on judges and magistrates to be accountable to the public by responding to inquiries, especially on cases of laziness, which he noted has nothing to do with interference of Judiciary’s independence.
“The bar of public accountability has risen and we must accept this is the new Kenya. When the public writes to me complaining about delayed cases, I expect judges to respond,” he said.