All suspects having court cases irrespective of the nature of offence will be arraigned in court within 24 hours of arrest, the Chief Justice, David Maraga has directed.
He said suspects who would not appear in court are those who would have been released on bond or bail by the police stations where they were held.
Maraga said the hearing of criminal appeals by the High Court and Court of Appeal shall be scaled up and proceed through modalities that would be agreed upon by Judges of the Appeal, the Director of Public Prosecutions, appellants, advocates and prison authorities.
“Where practicable, the appeals will be heard by video link and where facilities for video link are not available, it will be heard in open courts but with compliance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Health in combating Covid-19,” he said.
In a press statement sent to newsrooms on Friday, Maraga also assured that operations and services in all registries would be scaled up effective Tuesday, April 21st, 2020 by which adequate measures would be put in place to combat coronavirus in a bid to protect judicial staff and court users.
“Court registry supervisors shall report to the registries, but there shall be a limited number of registry staff as determined by the stations,” he said.
He said the members of the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) held a meeting on Thursday attended by the Solicitor-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Chief Executive Officer of Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Commissioner General of Prisons, the President of the Law Society of Kenya, three LSK members and the Judiciary leadership to firm up ways of scaling up court operations and streamlining the overall activities for the Justice Sector.
During the meeting, they reviewed the current situation in the administration of justice and came up with recommendations that would enable the courts to continue with operations while safeguarding the health of the staff and members of the public in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
The CJ at the same time announced that the hearing of civil matters would be scaled up with effect from 22nd April, 2020, whereby guidelines on how the hearing and appeals shall be conducted in Nairobi Courts would be issued by the Sub Committee of the National Council on Administration of Justice (NCAJ) that was appointed to review and recommend the justice sector responses.
He also said that presiding Judges and Heads of Stations outside Nairobi would liaise with court users committees and come up with guidelines on how hearings and appeals within the stations would be conducted while adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines.
Maraga said all pending judgments and rulings would be delivered in open court upon notice to litigants and their advocates, adding that the suspension of civil order and decree and eviction orders made before 16th March, 2020 still remain in force until 22nd April, 2020.
The CJ said, “Orders shall be extracted by registries and released to litigants and their advocates within 24 hours of heir making”.
He announced that the NCAJ would meet on Tuesday 21st April next week to review the steps taken to implement the resolutions.
By Bernadette Khaduli