By Advocate Morris.
Opinion: Recently, in the course of Senate proceedings, Senator James Orengo, while contributing to a motion, made some scathing remarks about the professional competences of Senator Murkomen, who apparently held an opposing view in the debate.
Senator Orengo referenced his vast experience in law and suggested that Senator Murkomen should read “Wade.” Murkomen responded in kind.
Were they speaking as lawyers? No. My view is that they both spoke as politicians. It’s the terrible reality of our times that we appear to have reconciled ourselves to reckless political utterances. It is against that background that I have, sadly, attempted to draw a dichotomy between the lawyer and the politician.
As a matter of practice, in law, we attack the argument, not the person. In a normal court setting, the court would have called out both of them for going for each other’s personal circumstances. In law, an argument is not honoured more because it is made by someone more experienced. It is assessed for its quality and veracity.
How right was Senator Orengo when he made his sweeping statements about the autonomy of parliamentary proceedings? I won’t go there. But awhile ago, a CORD MP Opiyo Wandayi was kicked out of Parliament by Speaker Justin Muturi. He had blown a whistle to disrupt President Kenyatta’s address to Parliament. He was barred from attending National Assembly proceedings for 10 months. The matter went to court. It was before Justice Odunga in the first instance. It was argued by Peter Kaluma and Antony Oluoch.
It was argued that internal parliamentary procedures were beyond judicial scrutiny. Authorities were quoted by both sides. Curiously, Wade was cited in support of the argument that courts can, in appropriate cases, interfere with parliamentary actions.
In the end, Justice Odunga stayed the action of the Speaker of the National Assembly. He said courts can interfere when parliamentary actions offend Article 47 of the Constitution and the Fair Administrative Actions Act. I will share a link in the comments. (The matter was subsequently committed to a three-judge bench).
And for the record, I know both Orengo and Murkomen. I have interacted and worked with both of them. They are lawyers in the strictest sense of the word. I refuse to rank them.