The President and the Chief Justice differed on Thursday over budgets cut for the Judiciary, which Chief Justice David Maraga says are almost crippling court operations.
The two leaders met during the official release of the State of the Judiciary and Administration of Justice Report (SOJAR) 2018-2019 at the Supreme Court Building.
Giving an example of the lands and environment courts that cannot hear a total of 17,833 cases this year due to lack of resources, the CJ pressed on the government to release more funds for the smooth operation of the Judiciary.
“What we are asking for is not a lot, and could be just half of what the ministry of health is allocated, let us be considered as an arm of the government,” the CJ said noting that courts other than the Supreme Court was operating below 50 per cent.
He cited Meru, Kitale, Eldoret and Kisii courts which, he said, needed urgent attention to continue serving people smoothly. He also noted that lack of resources had slowed down digitization of court documents making it a challenge to the judiciary.
However, in response, President Uhuru Kenyatta asked the Judiciary to think out of the box due to the challenges the government faces with its finances.
He doubted if the cuts announced late last year could so much affect the core services of the Judiciary.
“When we propose tax measures to raise more money for our operations, the Judiciary is quick to issue an injunction, the same body is quick to say it is not properly funded to carry out its duties. The revenue is still the same and the cuts were meant for everybody,” he said.
“The government is ready to finance the Judiciary but you also need to think outside the box, due to internal evaluation,” said the President.
While acknowledging the independence of the Judiciary, President Uhuru urged it to put the public interest first while coming up with decisions. He noted that some injunctions stall several key projects and to some extent due to competition, make the country lose opportunities to other countries.
He urged the Judiciary to speed up corruption cases in support of his war against the vice.
“We will continue working with our foreign counterparts to ensure that those who shielded justice in drug cases are brought to justice,” he added.
The State of the Judiciary and Administration of Justice Report takes stock of the Judiciary’s milestones in the year 2018/19 and discusses the challenges in delivering on the institution’s constitutional and statutory mandate.
Further, it reports on the performance of other justice sector actors that comprise the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ).
Section 5 (2) (b) of the Judicial Service Act, 2011, requires the Chief Justice to give an annual report to the nation on the State of the Judiciary and the Administration of Justice. Further, Section 38 (4) requires the Judiciary to gazette and send a copy of the report to each of the two Clerks of the two Houses of Parliament for it to be placed before the respective Houses for debate and adoption.
This is in keeping with its constitutional obligation to foster accountability and engage the public on its performance.
The publication, the ninth since the introduction of the reports in the Judiciary, is the third one that covers the period since the appointment of Justice Maraga to office as the 15th Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya.
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