Judiciary splits Environment and Lands Court

Chief Justice Martha Koome. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

The Judiciary has split the Environment and Land Court (ELC) into two divisions in a move aimed at fast-tracking land cases.

Environmental cases will be handled by the Environment and Planning Division, while land matters will squarely fall under the Land Division.

The Judiciary on Monday announced that each court will have two appointed magistrates to resolve the controversy about differing court orders.

According to Chief Justice Martha Koome, ELC had determined hundreds of complex and dynamic cases across the country in the past 10 years.

Koome said the split would see the period used to determine cases reduced drastically.

“The Environment and Land Court has been the busiest and hence the need to split it as we appoint two magistrates at the lower courts to deal with land matters,” she said.

Speaking during the launch of the two divisions in Sawela Lodge in Naivasha, Koome was full of praise for ELC, noting that it had resolved 9,612 cases last year.

“We have over 14,000 cases pending in ELC with 4,782 dragging for the last three years, and this is against our non-adjournment policy,” she said.

During the ceremony, Koome took issue with all government and private institutions polluting the Nairobi River, adding that they should be arrested and charged in court.

Land Cabinet Secretary Zach Njeru lauded the move to split ELC , noting that land matters were very emotive, and needed to be resolved urgently.

He said that plans to fully digitise land services in Nairobi were at an advanced stage before moving to Mombasa and other major towns.

“The ministry uses a lot of funds to take our officers and documents to court, and we hope that in the coming days, we shall go digital in tabling our evidence,” he said.

Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu took issue with the operations at the land department, noting that this had led to an increase in land disputes. “We don’t understand how one department can issue two title deeds for the same parcel of land,” she said.