Obviously this is an irreverent question, and not the sort of thing that could be countenanced in academia or in diplomatic circles. But I just couldn’t help myself since I write about practical realities in politics and governance here, while watching the podcast of Maina Kiai and Joel Barkan discussing the “Implications of the Kenyan Election” @NED and a question from the audience has inquired about the latest Pattni ruling.
Last week we learned that Kamlesh “Paul” Pattni, one of Kenya’s wealthiest “men of business” (not like Uhuru, apparently, but very wealthy) had been the beneficiary of a big legal breakthrough as the media reported that High Court Justice Joseph Mbalu Mutava had ruled back in March that Pattni could not be prosecuted in the trial courts for the notorious Goldenberg corruption scandal.
The judge also observed that the report by Commission of Inquiry chaired by former Court of Appeal judge Samuel Bosire on the scandal on which the existing criminal case was anchored is flawed and that most witnesses had died or their memories have faded.
Pattni moved to the High Court in August last year seeking to quash the criminal proceedings at the magistrate’s court and stop the State from further criminal prosecution on the scandal estimated to have cost Kenya billions of shillings.
On Pattni’s prayer that the media be barred from reporting on the case, the judge said that the court could only intervene to set parameters of reporting to protect someone’s rights.
Last November, Justice Mutava’s conduct was put to question in a petition filed against him by Havi and Company Advocates on behalf of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC). It sought to have the judge removed from office over his handling of the Pattni cases.
ICPC had argued that the whole matter had not been handled through the correct procedure and some court orders made were outside of the law.
The petitioner had faulted the judge’s handling of the case and accused him of being part of “an orchestrated cover-up to aid and abet Pattni’s criminal conduct”.
Justice Mutava was later transferred to Kericho from where he wrote the controversial judgment on Mr Pattni’ application for the case to be scrapped.