Justice Marete DK Njagi has over three decades experience in practicing law. He is one of those lawyers who became successful without engaging in private practice. In the course of his career, he has made some unpopular rulings that nearly cost him his job. In fact, he was suspended for five months last year after being accused of misconduct. Later, he was reinstated due to lack of proof concerning the allegations he was facing.
He was born in 1959 in Tharaka Nithi county.
Marete attended the University of Nairobi for a Bachelor of Law degree before joining Kenya School of Law for a post graduate diploma in law. He also holds a Master of Law from the University of Nairobi and a diploma in Theology from the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.
After leaving Kenya School of Law, he joined the attorney general’s office as a state counsel. He served in this office for fifteen years and steadily rose through the ranks to become principal state counsel.
In 2003, he joined the Teachers Service Commission as a senior legal council and worked there until 2009. On 2nd February 2009, he was retired from TSC with the reason cited being “public interest.” He sued TSC for kes26.3 million, seeking damages for breach of contract, punitive damages, exemplary damages and aggravated damages. The industrial court agreed that the said public interest had not been disclosed and awarded Marete kes1.91 million, a decision that was upheld by the court of appeal.
Marete then went on to become a lecturer of law at African Nazarene University.
In 2012, he was appointed to the newly created Employment Labor Relations Court (ELRC) under the 2010 Constitution. Under his tenure, the judge has handled some high profile cases and even found himself in trouble at one point. One of the rulings he is well remembered for was swooping in to save the day for civil servants who were vying for elective positions in 2017. He declared the law, which required civil servants to retire from their positions 6 months before the elections, unconstitutional and invalid.
At the ELRC, he first worked in Nairobi before being moved to Kericho.
In October 2017, he granted an order of injunction restraining the Kenya Tea Growers Association and five tea firms from victimizing and dismissing any employee in respect of a strike notice or issues outstanding from the 2016/2017 collective bargaining agreement. The Labor Relations Court judge was accused of misconduct by the tea body but the tribunal led by the retired Court of Appeal judge Alnashir Visram acquitted him of any wrongdoing.
Judge Visram told the press of their decision:
“The tribunal, having considered all the evidence tendered and applied the requisite law, found that the sole allegation of gross misconduct or misbehavior contrary to Article 168 (1) (e) of the constitution was not proved against the Hon. Judge….”
He went on to say:
“Justice D.K Njagi Marete ought not to be removed from the office of judge of the Employment and labor relations Court of Kenya”
Apart from Kericho and Nairobi, the courageous judge has also served in the law courts at Eldoret and Nyeri.
Following the retirement of David Maraga, the chief justice position was left vacant. Justice DK Njagi was among the people who declared interest in filling in the shoes left by Hon. Maraga. On 15th April 2021, he was interviewed for the chief justice position. However, the position was taken by Martha Koome.
The judge was among the seven candidates shortlisted for the position of Supreme Court judge and was the second to appear before the JSC panel.
Justice Marete Njagi: “My wife is a retiree, she takes her pension from the judiciary and eats it or throws it away” pic.twitter.com/gE4W0Xl7W3
— Citizen TV Kenya (@citizentvkenya) April 15, 2021
Justice Marete is a married man although this writer was not able to establish how many children the couple have.