Mwangi Stephen Muriithi V Attorney General  EKLR
|Civil Case 1170 of 1981
|28 Apr 1986
Alan Robin Winston Hancox
High Court at Nairobi (Milimani Law Courts)
Mwangi Stephen Muriithi v Attorney General
Mwangi Stephen Muriithi v Attorney General  eKLR
Muriithi v Attorney-General
High Court, at Nairobi 1981
Civil Case No 1170 of 1981
Transfer of suit – judicial bias – reasonable apprehension of bias – when court will allow transfer of suit on such grounds – duty of applicant to demonstrate grounds for his apprehension.
Judicial bias – existence of bias - transfer of case – where there exists reasonable apprehension of bias – duty of applicant to demonstrate grounds for his apprehension.
The plaintiff filed a suit challenging his retirement from the police force. On the day of filing the suit, his advocate personally approached a judge of the High Court (Cotran J) with what he said was an urgent application for a temporary declaration preserving the plaintiff’s rights as a pensionable officer of the police force.
The application was instead heard by Hancox J who dismissed it ( KLR 772). The plaintiff’s advocate then raised a preliminary objection that Hancox J should not hear the substantive case as it had been fixed before Cotran J who, being properly seized of it, the Chief Justice did not have the power to take away his jurisdiction and give the case to another judge.
1. At the time when the Chief Justice directed Cotran J that the case should not come before him but before Hancox J, the file was not before Cotran J as proceedings had taken place and a ruling had been delivered.
2. Before a transfer of a case is granted on the application of a party, a clear case must be made out that the applicant has a reasonable apprehension in his mind that he will not get a fair and impartial hearing before the judicial officer from whom he wants the case transferred.
3. A reasonable apprehension of bias means an apprehension on reasonable grounds which has to be a real apprehension honestly held and reasonably based.
4. There were no grounds, reasonable or otherwise, presented in this case for the plaintiff’s apprehension and no valid reason had been advanced for the bias, partiality or lack of objectivity on the part of the presiding judicial officer.
5. In a case of manifest urgency and exceptional circumstances that are such that it is not possible for a case to be fixed for hearing, a judge may be approached directly. However, ordinarily, the matter should be dealt with through the civil registry in a regular fashion.
1. Karanja v Republic Miscellaneous Criminal Application No 199 of 1976 (unreported)
2. Shilenje v Republic  KLR 132
3. Majisu v Majisu Divorce Cause No 8 of 1977 (unreported)
4. Republic v Hashimu  EA 636
1. Jowitt’s Dictionary of English Law
2. Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary
No statutes referred.
Subsequent to this ruling, Hancox J presided over the substantive suit. His decision thereon has been reported earlier in  KLR 1.