To enhance efficiency and provide speedy justice, cases should not take more than three years to be concluded in the trial courts once they are filed, Chief Justice Martha Koome has said.
Cases at the Court of Appeal, she added, should be concluded within one year after their filing.
Speaking at the induction of Supreme Court judges in Mombasa, Justice Koome also noted that citizens want to have their cases concluded expeditiously.
“The delay (in concluding cases) is aggravated by the winding up through the hierarchy of the court system,” Justice Koome said.
The CJ noted that 27 cases are pending at the Supreme Court and that they are on course to be concluded.
No adjournments will be allowed at the Supreme Court, she said, noting that there is a need to explore a policy on applications seeking such delays.
“We must send a message and reinforce it that we are abolishing adjournments,” she said.
She added that those who seek adjournment risk losing their chance to highlight submissions once the policy becomes effective.
Grounded in democracy
The role of the Supreme Court, she said, is to help steer the country towards a path of development that is grounded in democracy, social justice, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights.
Justice Koome said that there is also a need to dismantle social inequalities and expand individual rights and freedoms, which she said is a critical mandate of the Supreme Court.
The apex court in the land must serve as a model to other courts below to seek and aspire to emulate, she said.
“We must strive for excellence in our jurisprudence and court operations,” said Ms Koome, adding that the court must also review its performance and look for ways to improve it.
The success of the Supreme Court, she said, is for the judges to work in collaboration and collegially though each of them is independent in discharging their duties.
She said that the presence of Chief Justice Anin Yeboah from Ghana and Supreme Court judges from Malawi and Nigeria was significant as Kenyan judges tend to hear from them on how to navigate and solve election disputes.
Learn from one another
African countries, she said, tend to learn from one another and that as the Kenyan Judiciary prepares for the 2022 elections, it is trying to keep itself abreast of applicable rules and procedures.
“We also look at our neighbours, our African brothers and sisters, on how they have navigated (election disputes) in order to prepare ourselves and anticipate all the problems that might come and see how we can deal with them according to the law and Constitution,” Justice Koome said.