UoN students now free to hire lawyer in disciplinary matters

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Economy

UoN students now free to hire lawyer in disciplinary matters


UON

The Fountain of Knowledge at University of Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A rule at the University of Nairobi that blocks students from being represented by a lawyer during a disciplinary process has been declared unconstitutional by the High Court.
  • Article 50(2)(g) of the Constitution says ‘every accused person has the right to a fair trial, which includes the right to choose, and be represented by, an advocate, and to be informed of this right promptly’.

A rule at the University of Nairobi that blocks students from being represented by a lawyer during a disciplinary process has been declared unconstitutional by the High Court.

The court said the rule, which is contained in the university’s regulations governing the organisation, conduct and discipline of students, infringes Article 50(2)(g) of the Constitution to the extent that it denies legal representation for students facing disciplinary processes.

Article 50(2)(g) of the Constitution says ‘every accused person has the right to a fair trial, which includes the right to choose, and be represented by, an advocate, and to be informed of this right promptly’.

In the precedent-setting judgement, Justice Anthony Mrima said the right to a fair trial is among the rights and fundamental freedoms which cannot be limited in anyway whatsoever. “It is therefore one of the rights forming the basic structure of the Constitution. It is, therefore, a right which cannot be waived or acquiesced. Article 50(1) is on the impartiality and independence of a court or a tribunal. The requirement, therefore, also has the element of how the courts or tribunals are constituted,” said Justice Mrima.

He was ruling on a case filed three years ago by a student, Martha Kerubo Moracha, who was expelled on allegations of being found with unauthorized materials in the examination room. She was pursuing undergraduate studies for a degree of Bachelor of Economics and Statistics.

She told court that by denying her legal representation during the disciplinary proceedings, the university infringed on her rights guaranteed under Article 50 of the Constitution.

She contended that a trial is a technical process and, therefore, one’s legal representation is crucial.

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