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Kenya's Judiciary revenue drops as Covid-19 bites

By Frankline Sunday | December 1st 2020
CJ David Maraga (PHOTO: FILE)

The Judiciary lost Sh422million in revenues this year following the onset of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

According to the latest report from the Judiciary, reduction in court activities from March this year led to revenues falling from Sh2.6billion recorded last year, to Sh2.2billion this year.

The revenue shortfall further saw the country's courts fail to honour payments to suppliers and contractors, with its stock of pending bills climbing to Sh788million.

“Revenue Collection reduced by 18 per cent between the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 financial years,” explained the report in part.

"The reduction by 16 per cent is attributed to the reduced number of filed and resolved cases in the 2019/2020 financial year yielding in a reduction in fees and fines. This was due to the scaling down of court activities from March 2020 necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The fall in earnings to the Judiciary spells trouble for the state organ that is reeling from a backlog of unresolved cases and shortfalls in funding.

According to data from the report, the total number of cases filed in the countries courts last year stood at 337,510, marking a 30 per cent drop from last year’s 484,349.

At the same time, the number of pending cases has gone up to 617,582 this year, up from 569,859 in the 2018/2019 financial year.

While presenting the report last week, Chief Justice David Maraga said the Judiciary has managed to reduce the backlogs of unresolved cases, with those exceeding 5 years reduced by up to 70 per cent in recent years.

Maraga however put the National Treasury on the spot for underfunding the courts and failing to institute the Judicial Fund to grant it full autonomy.

“For it to effectively discharge its mandate, the Judiciary requires not just adequate financial allocation, but also financial autonomy,” said Maraga. “Currently, the Judiciary lacks both as only 47 per cent of its financial requests are funded and the executive has failed to operatanalise the Judiciary Fund.”

According to the recent report, the Judiciary received Sh50million in development expenditure during the 2019/2020 financial year, down from Sh2billion in the previous year.

The Judiciary had requested for a budgetary allocation of Sh23.3billion but received 16.9billion.

“The budget shortfall of 27 per cent to some extent could be attributed to the accumulation of pending bills to the tune of Sh788million at the end of the 2019/2020 financial year,” said the Judiciary in its report.

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