Judge Orders Kenyatta University To Release Detained Degree Certificate To A Law Student

By The Weekly Vision Team

A judge has issued “an order of mandamus to Kenyatta University compelling the university to release academic transcripts and a degree certificate for Bachelor of Laws to Esther Matende, to allow her to graduate in the forthcoming graduation.” Esther had rushed to the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, seeking a judicial review order compelling the university to issue her with her transcripts and degree certificate for a Bachelor of Laws through a petition dated July 21, 2022.

She stated in her application that in September 2015 she was admitted for a Bachelor of Laws Degree Course at Kenyatta University under admission number 1955/15104/2015. She completed her bachelor of law degree course in March 2021 and joined the Kenya School of Law for the postgraduate Advocates Training Programme as she waited to graduate sometime in July 2021.

Nevertheless, two weeks before the graduation, she was called and informed that she would not be graduating due to examination malpractices. On June 24, 2021, she was invited to go and pick up some letters from the university. She was handed two letters, one of which suspended her from the university in respect of an alleged exam malpractice concerning ‘LIL 300 Public International Law’ that allegedly occurred almost two years earlier. The other letter required her to appear before the University Disciplinary Committee over the said allegations on the very day she collected the letters.

After the disciplinary committee hearing, she was discontinued. On 3/8/2021, she filed an appeal against the decision, but the same has, to date, never been heard. She filed this petition in July 2022. Reacting to the response by the university, she explained that when the leakage was detected, the examination for the entire class was cancelled, and all 200 students were required to sit for a special examination in December 2020. She sat and passed the said special examination, getting a grade of B per the results that were reflected on the student portal. Accordingly, she contended that she sat for all examinations and met all the necessary academic requirements for her graduation and certification.

During cross-examination, she stated that it was the Dean of the Faculty who informed the students that there was examination leakage, a fact that the petitioner could not personally attest to as she was unaware of this leakage. She nevertheless confirmed she was questioned during the Academic Committee-led investigations by Mr Waliaula. She contended that it is the duty of the university to provide its graduates with transcripts and degree certificates once all the requirements have been met by the students and that she complied and satisfied those requirements having sat and passed all the examinations.

However, according to the university’s management, she and the rest of her classmates sat for the public international law paper ‘LIL 300’ on December 13, 2019. Nevertheless, in January 2020, there was information that the said examination had been leaked before it was administered to the students by being widely shared by students in a WhatsApp group.

Later, the Dean of the School of Law, Dr. Faith Kabata, convened a meeting with the students, and they admitted there was leakage. This prompted her to report to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic). The Deputy Vice-Chancellor formed an Academic Committee to investigate the matter. On February 25, 2020, it compiled its preliminary report, which implicated four students whom the university suspended.

The judge noted that the university tested and awarded her marks in LIL 300 in the Special Examination instead of suspending her according to its regulations. It approved her to proceed and join the Kenya School of Law, awaiting graduation. The suspension over the alleged initial leakage of LIL 300 was an afterthought. It came six months after the special examination, which she had sat and passed.

Judge L.N. Mugambi, through a ruling dated January 19, 2024, ordered: “an order of mandamus be and is hereby issued compelling the respondent to issue the petitioner with her academic transcripts and degree certificate for the Bachelor of Laws and to allow her to graduate in the forthcoming graduation.”.