Denying Judiciary money will hurt Kenyans and war on graft

Chief Justice David Maraga flanked by members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) addresses a press conference at Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Balancing budgetary allocations to meet the needs of each Government ministry and institution is not an easy task. This is the unenviable task that the National Treasury has to undertake every year.

Among the institutions whose expectations were not met by the 2018/2019 budgetary allocation was the Judiciary. The Judiciary requested Sh31.2 billion to enable it to meet its development and recurrent expenditure needs. However, Treasury allocated the Judiciary Sh17.3 billion, which Parliament further slashed to Sh14.5 billion.

No doubt, as Chief Justice David Maraga has said, slashing the Judiciary’s budget by half will cripple its operations. This will be further compounded by the Government’s reluctance to extend the funding of projects being undertaken by the World Bank, whose five-year funding ends in December 2018.

At this moment in time when the momentum on the fight against corruption must be sustained if it is to succeed, underfunding the Judiciary will undermine any gains that would have been made.

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After cutting the Judiciary's budget, Parliament allocated itself Sh42 billion. This came after members had increased their pension by 700 per cent and soon after raised their pay. Nothing defines hypocrisy more than such subjective reasoning by people entrusted with the responsibility of moving this country forward.

MPs make the laws and the Judiciary interprets them. Therefore, they are joined at the hip and must never work at loggerheads. To disadvantage the Judiciary through denial of funds is a disservice to Kenyans. It is in the public domain that the Executive and the Legislature have treated an independent, assertive Judiciary with suspicion, but to cripple its operations through starving it of funds is going too far.

With the limited budget and no funding from the World Bank, the CJ has intimated that 70 building projects will be put on hold while 50 mobile courts will be suspended to allow the Judiciary to operate within its budget. The Judiciary will be unable to hire more magistrates and judges. Sadly, this will ensure that the quest to clear a backlog of cases that have taken too long in court fails.

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