The release of the latest State of the Judiciary and Administration of Justice Report may be seen as a victory parade for Chief Justice David Maraga.
The top judge yesterday spoke candidly on the good, the bad and ugly in the Judiciary’s arduous quest to remain a dependable custodian of justice.
Maraga did not forget to share his feats, listing the launch of 61 court construction projects, greater physical coverage of courts, high case clearance rate and an aggressive ICT adoption in the wake of Covid-19.
In his usual no-holds-barred approach, the CJ revisited his frustrations, singling out interference with and frustration of the Judiciary’s independence, refusal to grant it financial autonomy and blatant disobedience of court orders by the state and its agents.
Maraga, who was giving his last status report before he retires on January 12, 2021, also revealed the genesis of his strained relations with President Uhuru Kenyatta. He offered an apology to those he might have angered during his tenure.
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The CJ was emphatic that although he did not achieve everything he wanted, he is leaving behind a bold and strong organ. As he prepares for his exit, it is important that we celebrate his contribution. It will be remembered that he took charge when there was a general feeling that the Judiciary had turned into the Executive’s lapdog.
Friend and foe agree that he confronted teething problems that had dogged the system for ages. Although Maraga may have tended to over promise, he helped the Judiciary win back public confidence. That, indeed, came as a surprise to many.
The outgoing CJ made history when he led the Supreme Court in annulling the presidential election after the 2017 sham polls.
With his run-ins with the Executive — including telling off the President over the appointment of 41 judges and calling for dissolution of Parliament over the elusive gender rule — Maraga spoke truth to power. His unflinching defence of the rule of law leaves Kenya a better place.
At this point in time, we urge the Judiciary to continue jealously guarding its tuff. Lack of an independent and efficient judicial branch will leave us with disastrous consequences.
Let the Judiciary leverage technology to improve its services, especially now that Covid-19 is disrupting operations. Despite funding challenges, it can plan better and set priorities right.