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CJ Koome cautions against political influence as new magistrates take oath

By Jael Mboga | Jan 11th 2022 | 2 min read

Chief Justice Martha Koome at the Supreme Court building on January 11, 2022.

Chief Justice Martha Koome has cautioned new magistrates against political influence in the administration of justice.

She spoke at the Supreme Court building where she presided over the swearing-in ceremony of 64 new magistrates.

Koome said judicial officers who fall to external influence cause "corporate embarrassment" to the Judiciary, adding that there is a need to exercise what she described as judicial hygiene.

"Every ruling should ensure there's justice and fairness. No political influence should come between you and the oath of office."

The president of the Supreme Court further said the Judiciary has zero tolerance to corruption and that the department will deal swiftly with any allegations.

"Being compromised is a short gain that cannot be compared with the lifelong career before you."

The CJ further urged the new magistrates to be missionaries of quick dispensation of cases.

Koome said all files should actively be managed to ensure there is a hearing date, documents filed and determination dates set.

"Courts are not parking lots. The case needs to be heard and determined. We do not know anything called adjournment."

The apex court chief added that no case should remain unresolved for more than three years.

In 2020, the Judiciary received around 484,000 cases, translating to around 800 cases per year for every judicial officer.

Addressing the new magistrates and adjudicators, Koome said the magistrate's court is the face of the justice system, as that is where the majority of Kenyans interact with the law.

In July last year, Koome reshuffled judges of the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) in a bid to clear case backlog.

The CJ also posted nine new judges to the ELRC, with Nairobi, which has a backlog of 8,852 cases, getting four additional judges.

Koome said the deployments that took effect from August 1 were to focus on clearing the backlog in the ELRC across the country that stood at 12,907 cases.

Meanwhile, High Court Judge Joel Ngugi in October last year said nearly 79 per cent of Kenyans seeking justice don't go to court, but use alternative justice systems.

Justice Ngugi attributed this to the backlog of cases, saying it was impractical for any judge to hear 800 cases in a year.

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