The Court of Appeal President Ouko has admitted to the Judicial Service Commission Committee that his Court has been the worst hit by the decision of President Uhuru Kenyatta not to swear in the 41 judges.
Ouko decried that staffing shortage at the appeal court was critical and that by the failure to appoint the 41 nominees including the 11 appellate judges had grave ramification in the delivery of services.
Ouko revealed that the court once had 27 judges, but most have since retired and others deceased, while two others were compelled to mainly handle administrative matters adding that only 12 and not fifteen appeal judges were actively undertaking judicial matters.
He said that delayed swearing-in of the 41 judges has heavily weighed on his court as in every sitting they must be three judges.
If appointed, Ouko promised to come back to the JSC to find a lasting solution to the impasse by negotiating the issue with both the executive and legislature.
“As head of the Judiciary the CJ has some structured channels with the President and if there is none, I will develop one. The government has three legs like an African stool and if one is short, one cannot sit comfortably on that stool,” said the composed Judge.
President Uhuru Kenyatta failed to appoint the Judges who were recommended by JSC in July 2019 for appointment to the Court of Appeal, the Environment and Land Court and the Employment and Labor Relations Court.
The Head of State cited integrity issues as the reason he’d declined to make the appointments.
Ouko further admitted that under funding due to budgetary cuts of the Judiciary allocations has been another impediment in the cause of justice in the Country.
“Money is a critical part of reform in Judiciary, has been and this big issue I even with the increment in allocation as the Judiciary has grown .It is not enough.” he said.
Ouko who was appointed to the Appellate Court as President in 2013 brings more than 34 years of judicial service experience if appointed the next Chief Justice.
He rose from the rank of a magistrate to the top level of court administration and has trained in court administration both locally and overseas.
In 1997, he took part in training in the Washington International Management Institute in USA, in 1993 he attended Court Administration Training at Royal Institute of Public Administration in UK and in 1991 he attended another training in the administration of courts in the USA among others.
Ouko is well conversant with the operation of all levels of the court system, understands the level of cooperation with the other branches of government, while maintaining independence, having served as the Accounting Officer of the Judiciary for many years.
He has been involved in institutional reforms in the Judiciary from the Kotut Committee on the financial independence of the Judiciary and the Delinking Committee that saw the Judiciary cut historical links with the Executive in so far as the terms and conditions of service of staff were concerned.
The Court of Appeal President was the eighth candidate to face the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) which is in the process of recruiting the country’s next Chief Justice, the third under the 2010 Constitution.
By Alice Gworo…