What you need to know:
- He said Kenyans should expect a backlog of cases and congested court diaries.
- This, he said, is because of the few judges currently serving in various court stations.
Chief Justice David Maraga has laid blame on President Uhuru Kenyatta for the delay in appointing of 41 new judges proposed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and continuous disobedience of court decrees on the part of government.
Addressing journalists on Monday, the CJ expressed disappointment on having unsuccessfully attempted to bring the issue of the appointment of new judges to the attention of the head of state.
“Your excellency, you know I have respect for you as our President and I have told you that. You also know that I have for a long time now unsuccessfully sought an appointment to discuss this issue with you, leaving me with no option but to raise the matter through this public statement,” he said.
And while announcing the resumption of open court operations countrywide, CJ Maraga said Kenyans should expect a backlog of cases and congested court diaries owing to the few number of judges currently serving in various courts.
He also named two court rulings which challenged the delay in the appointment of the 41 judges as having directed the President to do so but he has declined to heed to those orders.
He pointed a finger at the Attorney-General for having filed a notice of appeal intending to challenge decisions rendered by the High Court in the two cases but has not yet managed to set aside the said decrees.
He called on the President to appoint the 41 judges who were already recommended by the JSC as well as ordered by the court in the two cases.
“As your Excellency has pledged in the past, you respect the rule of law. I urge you to now demonstrate that faith by complying with those two court orders. In doing so, you will alleviate much suffering for Kenyans who are seeking justice in our courts,” said Chief Justice Maraga.
ACT ON ORDERS
He also called on the President to task the AG to take stock of all other court decrees and orders issued against the government and immediately start acting on them.
He said disobedience of court orders on the part of government, which he described as a routine by the Executive, creates a risk of lawlessness besides violating the constitutional democracy.
He said the government cannot expect citizens to obey the law when it cannot do so on its own and that the disobedience of court decrees amounts to about Sh1 billion in estimates.
He said several Kenyans who have been seeking compensation from the government, such as accident victims and land those involved in land disputes, have failed to get any reprieve from the courts because the government fails to act on the orders given.
The CJ said various accounting officers in the relevant ministries as well as police officers have a contemptuous attitude which leaves many helpless.
With regard to the resumption of open court sessions, the CJ indicated that as at May 31, the Environment and Land Court, with 33 judges, had a backlog of 16,457 cases, the Court of Appeal with 15 had 7,315 and the Employment and Labour Relations Court with 12 judges had 13,197 cases pending.
He said the backlog of cases is so dire that the earliest hearing date one can get for a case to be heard at the Milimani Law Courts is 2022.
“It is important to clearly and categorically state that this shortage of judges and the near paralysis of court operations has been caused by the President’s refusal to swear in the 41 judges recommended by JSC in July 2019,” said CJ Maraga.