Deputy CJ says judges are ready for poll petitions

Tuesday July 4 2017

By PHILIP MUYANGA
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The Judiciary anticipates that more elections petitions will be filed after this year’s General Election compared to 2013.

Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu said due to the current political situation, there was a likelihood of more than 300 petitions being filed.

However, Ms Mwilu said the Judiciary was ready to handle election-related disputes since most judges and magistrates have undergone training on election dispute resolution since 2013.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the annual judges’ conference at Sarova Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa on Monday.

LIMITED NUMBER

Ms Mwilu said the Judiciary used to have the problem of a limited number of judicial officers to hear election petitions, but that the situation had been rectified with additional judges.

“The Judiciary has a sufficient numbers of judges and magistrates,” said Ms Mwilu.

She said the number of cases to be filed as a result of the general elections will determine the number of judges to be assigned.

The annual conference draws together judges from the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, Employment and Labour Relations Court and Environment and Land Court.

DIGITISATION

It is organised by the Judiciary Training Institute (JTI). The conference is usually held in August but has been pushed to this week due to the coming General Election.

The theme of the colloquium is ‘Introspection and Sharing Experiences: Sustaining Judicial Transformation in a Digital Environment and Electioneering Period.’

JTI’s director Otieno Odek said judges would discuss issues relating to elections and the digitisation of the Judiciary.

“As part of the election preparedness, after the colloquium, judges will be ready (to handle any disputes),” said Justice Odek.

He said the colloquium is also an opportunity for judges to reflect on their work and find ways to improve service delivery to people.

PILOT PROJECT

He said the Judiciary had embarked on a pilot project of digitizing court records through E-filing and electronic case management.

Emerging jurisprudence on reproductive human rights, transgender and intersex issues and election technology law are some of the topics that the judges will deliberate on during the week-long conference.

Chief Justice David Maraga will officially open the conference Tuesday.

On Monday, judges heard that half of the country is not served by the Environment and Land Court due to a shortage of judges.

BIG WORK LOAD

Presiding Judge of the court Justice Samson Okong’o said the additional 19 judges sent to the court were not enough and that their work load is big.

“The case disposal rate is low, the workload cannot be matched with personnel, clients are frustrated,” said Justice Okong’o.

Justice Okong’o said they welcomed new judges posted to the court but noted that they lack basic needs.

“Some don’t have basics such as furniture, chambers and computers, there are many challenges faced by new judges,” said Justice Okong’o.