Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Philomena Mwilu on Wednesday opened two superior courts in Makueni and put on notice judicial officers engaging in malpractice.
The DCJ inaugurated the Makueni High Court and the Environment and Land Court and installed a judge for each at a ceremony held in Wote, Makueni’s administrative capital Wote.
Justice Charles Mbogo is the head the Environment and Land Court and Justice Charles Kariuki is the presiding judge for the two courts.
“These judges will start serving you immediately,” Ms Mwilu said at the ceremony, which senior judiciary officials, Makueni Members of County Assembly and Governor Kivutha Kibwana graced.
The DCJ said the move to create the courts was necessitated by a need to bring justice closer to Makueni residents and ease the burden on the Machakos High Court where litigants from the area took matters.
In the last two months, the Judiciary has opened three high court stations – in Narok, Kabarnet and Garsen.
In January, Chief Justice David Maraga opened Mpeketoni Law Courts in Lamu and refurbished a children’s court in Nakuru.
The move to devolve superior courts to counties, Ms Mwilu said, is in line with the Judiciary’s commitment to bringing justice closer to the people as required by law.
The DCJ said she heads the Office of the Judiciary Ombudsman and she is charged with receiving complaints and compliments on the performance of judicial officers.
“Once complaints on the contact of judicial officers will reach my desk, I will forward them to the Judicial Service Commission and since I will not forward cases based on frivolous complaints, cases that I shall forward will be seeing a magistrate sent home,” she said.
Although it was clear what wrongs by judicial officers would warrant their punishment by the Judicial Service Commission, Ms Mwilu emphasised on the need for magistrates and other judicial officials to be selfless and focus on serving litigants.
The DCJ, who heads a team charged with reinforcing and sustaining judicial reforms started during the time of CJ Willy Mutunga, reiterated that the officials should be committed to serving the people.
Governor Kibwana praised the creation of the courts in the area, saying they will be handy in addressing land disputes that have dogged residents for long, according to court records.
In addition, he said, the courts would fill a need to address the problem of sand harvesting, which has caused conflict and death in some areas in the county.
Prof Kibwana, who chairs the legal committee of the Council of Governors, hailed Ms Mwilu and the Judiciary for its commitment to protecting devolution.
The Makueni High Court was gazetted on January, 9, this year, and, according to Justice Kariuki, started operating on Wednesday.
Mr Kariuki told the DCJ and the residents the two courts are ready to offer service.
The Makueni High Court will be expected to supervise Makueni, Tawa, Kilungu and Makindu magistrates courts in the county.