Following the government’s directive on Sunday that employees be allowed to work from home in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Chief Justice David Maraga has issued fresh guidelines on court operations across the country effective today (Monday).
In an internal memo sent to the president of the Court of Appeal, all principal judges, presiding judges, registrars and heads of stations, CJ Maraga says members of the public will not be allowed entry into court premises.
Only persons visiting courts to file urgent matters will be allowed access, the fresh guidelines say.
“Heads of stations are hereby directed to inform security personnel accordingly and issue notices to that effect,'' the memo said.
Further, CJ Maraga has ordered each court to maintain a skeleton staff of three officers. These will include a court administrator and an assistant, who will handle urgent filings at the customer care desk.
After filing the matters, these officers will be required to inform the judge or magistrate on duty for action.
CJ Maraga has also ordered that each High Court station will have only one duty judge and one magistrate in each of the lower courts.
This lean staff is expected to advise the judges and judicial officers whenever urgent matters are filed.
Once filed, these matters will be heard once a week on Thursdays starting this week.
According to the CJ, these guidelines will also apply to all Court of Appeal stations and the Supreme Court.
All other staff are expected to work from home until they are given fresh instructions by their supervisors.
In an earlier memo, CJ Maraga had said that all judicial employees were expected to report to work. This was later ''superseded by the government directive''.
SWEAR IN JUDGES
At the same time, Law Society of Kenya president Nelson Havi has called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to swear in all the 41 judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission to handle disputes that will have accumulated by the time courts resume normal operations.
So far, Kenya has confirmed three cases of the Covid-19. At least 45 people are currently quarantined in various facilities in Nairobi.
By Monday morning, 6,400 people had succumbed to the novel coronavirus worldwide, according to estimates by the Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The bulk of the deaths have taken place in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus was first reported.
Outside China, Italy leads in the number of reported infections, new infections and deaths from the virus.
In the last 24 hours, 368 people have died from the virus in Italy, taking the tally to 1,809.
The number of infections in the European country has also sharply risen to 24,747 from 21,157 cases reported on Saturday.
Globally, more than 153,000 people are infected, according to WHO.