Source: All Africa
As the battle over appointment of the Supreme Court judges starts details are emerging on why women missed out on the posts.

A member of the Judicial Service Commission who sought anonymity in order to speak freely on the matter has told the Nation that most women applicants did not meet the cut for appointment to the highest court.

"The majority performed below par during the interviews. Most were suitable for the High Court and not the Supreme Court," said the JSC member.

He noted only former Nominated MP Njoki Ndung'u clinched one of the posts because of her involvement in writing of the new constitution which she is expected to interpret.

"The other women applicants were below her in terms of grading. She has a master's degree and has been both a member of the Kenya and Pan African parliaments," said the JSC member.

President Kibaki appointed Philip Tunoi, Mohammed Ibrahim, Jacktone Ojwang', Smokin Wanjala and Njoki Ndung'u to the Supreme Court as recommended by the JSC.

However, the High Court blocked their swearing-in following arguments by women's s groups that the selection did not uphold gender equity.

Through lawyer Judith Thong'ori, they submitted that the JSC appointed four men and one woman contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.

But another member of the JSC, Mr Ahmednasir Abdullahi, yesterday defended their nominees. "I am convinced to that we picked the best candidates guided by the provisions of the Judicial Service Act.

"We used yardsticks such as academic background, integrity, reform record and past judgements."

He declined to comment on the strength of individual nominees, but a source familiar with the selection process said the JSC also considered national balance.

Of the applicants, our source said, Dr Wanjala was ranked best during the oral interview. With a doctorate of law and many writings on law, the JSC felt he would "inject depth" into the Supreme Court.

A member of the JSC, described Prof Ojwang', a former dean at the University of Nairobi Law School as a jurist of "extremely high calibre" who is respected by colleagues at the High Court.

Judge Ibrahim, who is the second Moi-era detainee to join the Court (the other is the CJ), "was the most solid in terms of past judgments. He graduated the top of his Law class and had distinguished career as an advocate," said the JSC member.

Mr Justice Tunoi, is the second most senior judge of the Court of Appeal and was picked to his experience and independence. 

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