Who is David Maraga?

The Supreme Court of Kenya. Photo credit: IndustryAndTravel / Shutterstock.com.
The Supreme Court of Kenya. Photo credit: IndustryAndTravel / Shutterstock.com.

David Maranga is the 14th Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kenya. He graduated from the University of Nairobi the a degree in law in 1977. Maranga will serve only for one term as the constitution set the age limit at 70 and Maranga was 64 years old at the time he took office. He is the second person to hold the office under the 2010 Constitution after his predecessor Willy Mutunga. Maranga once headed a commission constituted by President Uhuru that investigated and recommended the removal of Judge Mutava on the grounds of misconduct.

Early Life

Maranga was born on January 12, 1951, in Bonyamatuta, Nyamira County. After completing his O-level education at Maranda High School, he proceeded for the East African Advanced Certificate at Kisii high school. He joined the University of Nairobi to study Bachelor of Law and graduated in 1977. Maranga attended Kenya School of Law for his post-diploma before pursuing his master’s degree in Law at the same university.

Judicial Career

Justice Maranga was appointed as the Judge of High Court in October 2003 by President Mwai Kibaki. Later in 2012, Judicial Service Commission promoted Maranga to the Court of Appeal after a rigorous interview to determine his suitability. After the promulgation of 2010 Constitution, public civil servants were to undergo mandatory vetting to determine their fitness in the provision of services. Maranga was taken through the vetting by the Judges & Magistrates Vetting Board in 2012, and during the process, he demanded a Bible to swear as approval that he had never taken a bribe and swore never to take it in future.

The former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga appointed Maranga in May 2012 to preside over the Kenya Working Committee on Election Preparations (JWCEP) to put Judiciary in readiness to deal with any election dispute presented before them after 2013 General election. Due to the success of the Judiciary in handling elections petitions within the statutory timelines, the committee was renamed as the Judiciary Committee on Elections (JCE) as a standing body under the leadership of Maranga.

On May 13, 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta named Justice Maranga to chair the Tribunal constituted to investigate Judge Joseph Mutava, a High Court Judge that was alleged to have been bribed to cushion the main suspect of the Goldenberg Scandal, Kamlesh Pattni. In September 2016, the commission presented a report to the President recommending removal of Judge Mutava for misconduct. Maranga was the Presiding Judge of Court of Appeal in Kisumu before his appointment as the Chief Justice. He had been serving as a High Court Judge from 2003 after privately practicing law for 25 years.

As Chief of Justice

Dr. Willy Mutunga retired in June 2016 paving the way for the appointment of his successor; Maranga was among those who were interviewed for the post by the Judicial Service Commission. He emerged the winner, and his name was forwarded to the President who passed it to the National Assembly for vetting. The Assembly voted for the approval of his appointment and Maranga was officially appointed on October 19, 2016, by the President.

On September 1, 2017, Justice Maranga led his Supreme Court judges in hearing and determining the presidential petitions taken by opposition leader Raila Odinga challenging the 2017 presidential elections results. The Supreme nullified the results and ordered for a fresh election within 60 days. In his ruling, Justice Maranga said, “the greatness of a country depends on her fidelity to the rule of law, constitution, and fear of the God.”


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