The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will progressively recruit more judges and magistrates to boost numbers on the ground in order to expedite cases.
The Principal Judge of the High Court, Justice Lilian Achode said that the court of appeal was most hit as they have less than 20 judges when the ideal number should be 30 to be able to meet timelines for pending judgments.
Justice Achode said that only ten stations in the whole country are carrying 90 per cent of the backlog with some having pending appeals dating as far back as 2012.
She said the JSC was concentrating on the affected stations by sending more officers to get them out of the “list of shame.”
The Principal Judge said stations like Bungoma, Kisii and Nyeri that were initially on the list of shame but had been salvaged and were now dealing with very recent appeals.
Justice Achode spoke when she led members of the High Court Advisory Committee to meet Bungoma Court User’s Committee (CUC) members and staff of the Bungoma High Court on Thursday at a Bungoma hotel.
Members of the advisory committee include, High Court Judges, George Vincent Odunga and Justice (rtd) Msagha Mbogoli, Justice Achode stated that whereas according to the 2010 constitution, every county should have a high court only 38 counties have been reached due to the simple reason that “we do not have people to take to those counties where we need to take them.”
She said the JCC has made a request to the Chief Justice to fill up the gaps starting with the Court of Appeal whose
vacant positions have already been advertised.
Justice Achode however, called for teamwork and sacrifice among all players in the justice hierarchy to be able to deliver justice to Kenyans on time.
Annette Nyukuli Mumalasi, speaking on behalf of LSK Bungoma branch said there was need for the judicial calendar to be done early and circulated in advance to pave way for proper planning.
Members of the bar decried the habit of judicial officers going away on retreats and other official duties without giving prior notice so they end up in court only to find there is no judge to hear their cases.
They called for a distinction between justice at last and dismissals, saying that most times notices are issued and matters dismissed without a proper hearing.
In evaluating performance, the practitioners proposed that the judiciary should develop a tool that will be used to look at the quality of the judgements and the eventual justice delivered to the people.
A member of the CUC, Martin Wanyonyi said there was need for a modern court with a ramp to be constructed in Bungoma.
Justice Achode said that a huge slash in the development budget allocation for the judiciary this financial year had made it impossible to expand infrastructure.
She said the current Bungoma court was constrained for space and there was no space to construct a ramp adding that a bigger court house would provide different amenities for different people, including persons with disabilities.
She asked the CUC to finalise processing of documents with the ministry of lands for acquisition of more land already identified for construction of a modern court so that funds can be sought.
By Roseland Lumwamu