Kalpana Rawal

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Kalpana Hasmukhrai Rawal (born 15 January 1946 in India Bhuj) is a Kenyan-Indian lawyer and the former Deputy Chief Justice and Vice President of the Supreme Court of Kenya. She was sworn in on June 3, 2013 as the Deputy Chief Justice of Kenya in a ceremony presided over by the President of Kenya and the Chief Justice. After a protracted case on the question of the retirement age of Judges who were appointed under the old Constitution of Kenya, the Supreme Court delivered a Ruling which effectively set the retirement age at 70 years, sending the Deputy Chief Justice and one other Supreme Court Judge who had reached 70 on retirement.[1]

Education and Early Career[edit]

Rawal holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, and Bachelors and Master of Laws in constitutional and administrative law. She received her LLB and LLM degrees in India, where she practised for three years under the tutelage of Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati who later became the 17th Chief Justice of India.[2] In 1975 she worked as a teacher of both administration and regular police officers at Lower Kabete. In the same year, she set up a private practice becoming the first woman lawyer to do so in Kenya. She run a general practice until 1999 when she was appointed a commissioner of assize, and judge of the High Court thereafter.[3]

Judicial career[edit]

Rawal has over 40 years experience in the Legal profession [4] and as at May 2011 had served as a judge for 11 years most of which was in Nairobi.[5]

Chief Justice Interviews[edit]

In May 2011, she was among 9 applicants interviewed for the position Chief Justice of Kenya by the Judicial Service Commission (Kenya). She however lost to current Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.[6]

2012 Kenya Police Helicopter Crash Inquiry[edit]

Justice Rawal led the judicial inquiry into the June 2012 Kenya Police helicopter crash that killed all six people on board including Minister George Saitoti and Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode.

Vetting Board Decision[edit]

In September 2012, the Kenya Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board in its fourth Determination declared Rawal fit for office. [2] It had earlier delayed its decision as she was among judges hearing a national interest case to determine on the date of the next Kenyan general elections.[7]

Deputy Chief Justice Nomination[edit]

Following the resignation of Nancy Barasa, Rawal applied for the vacant position of Deputy Chief Justice advertised by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on 9 November 2012. The JSC however re-advertised because it was dissatisfied by the number of applicants. The position subsequently attracted applications from 17 women and one man.[8] She was among 5 shortlisted for the position.[9]

On 22 February 2013, the JSC announced that after completing the interviews it had nominated Court of Appeal Judge Kalpana Rawal. She was successfully vetted by Parliament, and then appointed by the President as the Deputy Chief Justice.

Panama Papers[edit]

After the a huge leaked set of 11.5 million confidential documents that provide detailed information on more than 214,000 offshore companies listed by the Panamanian corporate service provider Mossack Fonsec. According to the documents date to September 7, 2007, Kalpana and her husband indicated that they set up an offshore holding company to move his business to the British Virgin Islands [10]


Having been born in January 1946, Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal was required to retire from the Supreme Court upon reaching 70 in January 2016 in line with Article 167(1) of the Constitution of Kenya. However, when the Judicial Service Commission served her with a retirement notice, she launched a protracted case insisting that she should leave office at 74 years since she was first appointed as a Judge under the old Constitution of Kenya which set the retirement age of Judges at 74.[11] Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal confirmed the retirement age as 70, but she filed a further appeal before her colleagues in the Supreme Court who delivered a ruling which effectively confirmed the retirement age as 70.[12] She was therefore retired on 14th June 2016.

Personal life[edit]

Her father was a judge of the High Court of India while her grandfather served as a law minister in India.[3]

See also[edit]