We have done well, CJ Maraga says in Judiciary scorecard

Chief Justice David Maraga (pictured) has said the judiciary has performed well, regardless of hurdles in its path in the last four years.

Speaking when he issued the state of the judiciary report in Nairobi on Friday, Maraga highlighted challenges and victories he experienced during his tenure as CJ ahead of his retirement in January 2021.

According to Maraga, the Judiciary is one of the most transformed public sector institutions in the last decade owing to enhanced integrity, good infrastructure, technology and staff welfare.

When Chief Justice Willy Mutunga retired, the judiciary embarked on a Judiciary Transformation Network which lapsed in 2016.

It facilitated structural changes that set into motion a number of processes that improved access to justice, better services and the reduction of cases backlog.

Maraga, who assumed office on October 19, 2016, set out to reduce the base backlog, which he said is a perennial concern.

While clearance remains the core focus, the statistics are not where they ought to be.

Kenyans file an average of 400,000 cases a year while the judiciary only has the capacity to handle 300,000.

However, Maraga says through various strategies, some 201,206 cases that were five years and older between 2017 and 2020 have been cleared.

"There has been a 71 per cent overall reduction in cases. The clearance rate was at 42 per cent but moved to 97 per cent between 2018/19."

The figures show courts have had an improved efficiency in disposal as in the period under review, 337,510 cases were filed and 289,728 were resolved.

On the impact of Covid-19 on the clearance rate, the figures reduced by 10 per cent.

All in all, the case statistics over the years show increasing workload for the judiciary consistent in all tiers.

Concerning the Court of Appeal, it still needs 30 but only has 16 judges. This is despite the best efforts to increase the numbers from the 51pc to 41pc case clearance rate.

CJ Maraga said unless the human resource capacity is met, the courts will not clear the cases.

Due to the implementation of court-annexed programmes, some 3,540 matters worth Sh13.5 billion were referred to mediation and 1,077 successfully settled. 

About Sh11.5 billion tied up in litigation is released annually into the economy and over 90 per cent disputes resolved away from the court. 

Maraga said the judiciary wants to establish a small claims court in matters whose value is below Sh1 million.

There are currently 61 ongoing projects, 25 of which are funded by the World Bank, to reduce residents' distance to court.

The CJ lauded partnerships with counties, MPs, CDF and other partners to build court premises across the country.

Eighteen new court buildings have been set up as mobile court programmes were unveiled to complement the 60 mobile courts in operation across the country.

Those present at the event included Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, judges of the supreme court and other courts and representatives of the Judicial Service Commission.