The High Court has suspended the appointment of retired judge Erastus Githinji as chairperson of the Tax Appeals Tribunal.
Justice Hellen Wasilwa on Wednesday temporary barred Githinji from assuming the position pending hearing and determination of a petition challenging his eligibility.
Chama Cha Mawakili lobby group had moved to court seeking to bar the retired judge from being sworn into office.
The 71-year-od was appointed to the position by National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani and gazetted on April 15, 2020.
But the appointment sparked a heated debate on social media with a section of Kenyans criticising the Jubilee administration for its “love for the old”.
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) also protested the move further calling on CS Yatani to revoke the appointment.
In a letter addressed to Yatani, LSK President Nelson Havi said the appointment is unlawful and as the judge does not qualify on account of his age.
Havi called on the CS to commence a competitive recruitment process or face legal action. He also urged Githinji not to accept the job.
The law stipulates that for a person to be appointed Chairperson of the Tax Appeals Tribunal he/she must be qualified to be appointed as a judge of the High Court.
Havi argued that the specialised nature of tribunal would require that an advocate with academic and professional qualifications and experience in tax law and procedure be appointed.
The lawyer said there is no shortage of such advocates in the membership of the LSK and such an appointment ought to have been done competitively.
“There was no such process in the case of Githinji’s appointment. His appointment violates the principle of good governance,” said Havi.
The LSK boss was flanked by senior counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi who stated that Githinji is not qualified for the job for the simple reason that he is a retired judge.
“This (appointment) OBVIOUSLY is illegal. The person to be appointed chairman of the tribunal ‘must be qualified to be appointed as a judge of the High Court’…and a retired judge is not so qualified, ” said Ahmednasir.