Judicial Service Commission sued over employment

by Wakili Liam

Ms Susan Oyatsi has sued the Judicial Service Commission for advertising a role she has held in acting capacity for seven years.

The senior Judiciary official Monday said she deserves to be confirmed as the head of finance.

Ms Susan Oyatsi faulted her employer for advertising the position for the second time yet she has been performing the duties of the director of finance, for the said period.

She has blocked the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) from hiring of new director of finance last year, pending the determination of a case she has filed. 

Ms Oyasti said she joined the Judiciary in June 2013 as the regional assistant director in charge of Nairobi. She later took over as the director in an acting capacity in February 2015. 

The Directorate of Finance position, which had two directors, has not had a substantive office holder since November 2013.

Through senior counsel Fred Ngatia, Ms Oyatsi said she was among persons who were first interviewed for the job in 2016 but the JSC said there was no successful candidate. She later took over from another person in an acting capacity for another five years.

During her stint, Mr Ngatia said she performed her job exceptionally earning a recommendation from former Chief Justice David Maraga. 

She said has been instrumental in preparing the Judiciary and JSC budgets and has appeared before the National Assembly together with Chief Registrar of Judiciary Ms Amadi. 

“She deserves the said position she has been discharging her duties for the last seven years,” Mr Ngatia told Justice Nduma Nderi of the Employment and Labour Relations court.

She did a second interview but Ms Amadi wrote to her on September 28, 2019 informing her that she was not successful. No reasons or disclosure of scores were made.

According to Mr Ngatia, JSC is happy to have Ms Oyatsi perform the duties in an acting capacity as opposed to confirming her as the substantive holder of the office.

JSC lawyer Charles Kanjama opposed her petition saying said the commission cannot afford to get it wrong in filling the position. “Granting her the prayers sought would be contrary to constitutional dictates that recruitment and appointments should be done competitively,” he said. 

Other than being compelling the JSC to confirm to the position, Ms Oyatsi is also seeking special damages amounting to Sh21.7 million in backdated compensation for being underpaid while serving as Director General Finance.

Ms Oyatsi wants the JSC permanently restrained from filling the vacancy and for the commission from taking any adverse action against her.

The case was adjourned to February 2. 

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