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CJ Martha Koome: Cases set for hearing will not be adjourned

By Joackim Bwana | Jan 19th 2022 | 2 min read


Chief Justice Martha Koome (centre) with justices David Majanja and Lydia Achode during a judges' retreat in Mombasa on Monday. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Judges will no longer adjourn cases set for hearing, Chief Justice Martha Koome has warned.

A judge will be expected to hear a case and give a verdict, dismiss it, or have it withdrawn altogether in a new strategy to clear a backlog of cases and restore public confidence in the Judiciary.

Justice Koome, who was addressing a judges’ conference in Mombasa yesterday, said no case with a fixed date for hearing will be adjourned anymore. “The judges will no longer adopt the adjournment policy once a matter has been fixed date for hearing. Our biggest enemy in the Judiciary has been our failure to serve the people diligently,” she said. 

She added: “We shall set dates for to hear cases. And we will expect the cases to be heard and concluded. We may also allow parties in a case to withdraw it and if not, we shall dismiss it,” Koome said amid cheers from the 54 High Court judges attending the conference.

Threatened by complaints

“The courts have been given powers by the people to serve them and we must do it diligently and not for the people to keep coming in and out of the courts.”

She said Kenya’s judicial system has been threatened by complaints about delays in resolving cases.

The CJ also spoke about concerns on the integrity of judges and those working under them, saying the time has come for all these to be put to rest.

“Our enemy is within us and the enemy is what makes us not deliver judgment in a case one year down the line even after giving the hearing dates to the parties within which they expect a matter to be concluded. Other enemies are those offering bribes to judges. We need to say no to these enemies,” said Koome.

“We are in charge of cases filed in court. Cases are not controlled by the chambers of advocates.”

She acknowledged that judges are currently overwhelmed by cases but said they will do everything possible to clear them, prioritising the old ones.

Koome said deputy registrars, researchers and secretaries, who are available in every court, will be reoriented in such a way that they are able to support the judges in the delivery of rulings and judgments within the shortest possible time. She said as case managers, deputy registrars should check which files are ready for hearing and ensure the oldest files are allocated the hearing dates first.

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