Social media has been awash with all kind of street interpretations of the law, following recent precedent set by Judge Mumbi Ngugi, touching on public servants implicated in corruption scandals. Here comes a comprehensive analysis of the ruling and what it means for thiseountry going forward.
To begin with, the ruling states that one should step aside and remain out of office for the entire period of trial. The key words here are “step aside”. When interpreting the law, we’re guided by certain rules of interpretation.
Literal rule of interpretation in this regard would lead us to the common definition and understanding of the words “step aside”. Their meaning amounts not to resignation. Resignation of the governor is the only stipulated ground between the two, which can lead to the deputy governor being sworn into office as a replacement.
Applying the mischief rule of interpretation, we have to find the harm meant to be healed by the newly set precedent. The mischief in this regard was the tendency of tampering with evidence and eventually compromising with the trial process. The law is not intended to have the office bearer quit office but rather provide conducive environment for successful trial.
Article 50 of our Constitution raises a very essential presumption of innocence until the contrary is proven. Hearing from seasoned lawyers like Steve Ogolla calling for subsequent resignation of the affected individuals is actually sickening. For the likes of Rotich it is actually easier to be hounded out of office since they are appointees, but for the governors it is impossible.
We cannot claim that their integrity status and public trust has been thrown into question and therefore should be replaced. Our judiciary are not courts of public opinion. The general mood of the public cannot determine what amounts to conviction before trial.