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Mutunga now wants flying judges

Wednesday November 23 2011

Speaker Kenneth Marende (right) presents a gift to Chief Justice Willy Mutunga after he paid a courtesy call at Parliament Buildings on November 23, 2011. Photo/WILLIAM OERI

Speaker Kenneth Marende (right) presents a gift to Chief Justice Willy Mutunga after he paid a courtesy call at Parliament Buildings on November 23, 2011. Photo/WILLIAM OERI 

By CAROLINE WAFULA [email protected]

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga wants helicopters for his officers.

He said Wednesday the aircraft were among the key requirements that would facilitate the work of judicial officers, especially in far-flung areas.

“If Kenyans want judiciary reforms, it is going to cost them. We will come to Parliament to ask for the funds,” he said.

The Judiciary’s ambitious reform programme includes building new courts and modernising existing ones in all the 47 counties.

Dr Mutunga, who was speaking during a meeting with National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende at Parliament Buildings Wednesday, said he was confident his dream would come true.

“The courts, just like the Kenya Wildlife Service, need helicopters. We could hire, but I think this country has enough resources to buy not one, but three, helicopters for us,” he said.

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He said judges in far-flung areas needed to travel to Nairobi and other areas to see their families at least once a month.

“It sometimes takes officers up to four days to travel due to bad roads,” he said.

Mr Marende said the proposal was not unusual, citing a case in Nigeria where the state bought a jet for the Speaker of Parliament.

“But I think here, I am not going to ask for one,” he quipped.

The CJ also wants an attractive retirement package for judges. “We should not give them an excuse to look the other way or be tempted,” he said.

The Judiciary would also introduce a training programme for judges.

“As you know, judges used to say nobody can train them and that is the arrogance that many lawyers have, but we envisage training them on issues of national interest, not just the law,” Dr Mutunga said.

More officers will also be hired as the Judiciary plans to put up a High Court in every county.

Mr Marende said Parliament was worried that lately many litigants were enjoining him as the Speaker in court cases.

He said there have also been cases where judges have made rulings which restrict or sanction Parliament on some decisions and said this was not in line with separation of powers.

“This shows lack of appreciation of the law,” the Speaker said, adding that in some cases, judges have ruled that some laws passed by and assented to by Parliament were unconstitutional.