Chief Justice Martha Koome has ordered the Court of Appeal judges to hear and determine cases within a year of their filing.
She said the move will ensure that backlog of cases is dealt with, noting that there are about 1,500 pending appeal cases in Nakuru. Justice Koome issued the directive yesterday when she launched the Court of Appeal, Nakuru Station.
“I hereby direct the Court of Appeal judges to hear and determine cases within a year of their filing... Our expectation is that the Nakuru Court of Appeal will follow in this trend of excellence in service delivery. We are keen to work with and support the judges in realising our target of ensuring that appeals are concluded within a period of 1 year,” Justice Koome.
The permanent bench will host four judges; presiding judge Fatuma Sichale and justices Fred Ochieng, Weldon Korir and Lydia Achode.
“We looked at the case log data and we saw the need to establish the appellate court in Nakuru,” said Justice Koome.
She said the court will now serve the whole of Rift Valley, noting that some of the litigants in Turkana, Baringo, and Kapenguria among other stations had to go to Nairobi or Kisumu to appeal cases. The CJ said they are also on the verge of launching an appellate court in Eldoret, in a move to hear and determine cases in a timely manner.
She, however, called on all court users including lawyers, government, litigants, and judicial staff, to join hands, admitting that judges alone cannot achieve the objectives of the appellate court.
“I urge the Rift Valley Law Society Branch and other Court Users to actively co-operate and work with the Judges to ensure that this target of expeditious resolution of appeals is realised. For example, we have done away with the idea of “adjournment” of matters once they are set down for hearing,” she said.
She said the judiciary will also work hard to establish magistrate courts in Njoro, Subukia, Bahati, Kuresoi North and South, Gilgil and Rongai sub-counties. Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, spoke on women’s leadership in the Judiciary and government saying it is a good sign for the future. She urged the Court of Appeal to regain its control and stamp its authority that had been lost in recent years, noting that it deals with all the matters pertaining to the court.
“The Supreme Court has minimal jurisdiction when compared to the appellate court. It is time to live up to its expectations by the public,” she said.
Mwilu took note of the infrastructure in the modern court, launched last year, which houses the appellate court, and said the judges have no excuse to deliver.
The county government donated two parcels of land in Olenguruone and Solai for the construction of courts and saluted the judiciary for its growth. Governor Susan Kihika urged the court to consider minimising the issuance of injunction orders that have seen the county stagnate in development and collection of revenues.
President Court of Appeal Daniel Musinga appreciated the increase of the appellate court judges from 12 to 29 but said they were still not enough. Judge Sichale said no one will be denied justice. She committed herself and her court to hear and determining cases fairly, timely and objectively.