EDITORIAL: Give the courts money, but they must perform - Daily Nation

Give the courts money, but they must perform

Friday February 22 2019

By EDITORIAL
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The appeal by the Judiciary for an increased budgetary allocation in the next financial year deserves serious attention.

Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi’s presentation to Parliament this week laid bare the institution’s needs and dangers of failing to fund it properly.

Given the central role the Judiciary plays, we concur that Parliament should allocate more resources to it to facilitate expeditious administration of justice.

This is the surest way of strengthening the courts and, in particular, equipping them to deal fast and effectively with the numerous corruption cases.

For the past year, the Judiciary has persistently complained that it could not function properly due to lack of funds.

BUDGET CUTS

This is because of drastic budget cuts by Parliament. Whereas the Judiciary had asked for Sh31.2 billion, it was only allocated Sh17.3 billion.

Worse, when Parliament finally passed the Appropriation Act, which allows the government to spend the budgeted funds, the allocation was whittled down to Sh14.5 billion.

Pledges by the Executive to reverse the anomaly never came to pass.

Among the activities and projects that stalled was the construction of 70 courts across the country intended to ease pressure on existing facilities and make it possible for many people at the grassroots to pursue justice.

Also affected were programmes such as mobile courts that serve pastoral and marginal communities.

BACKLOG

Part of the problem for the slow adjudication of cases is the shortage of courts and judicial officers.

Chief Justice David Maraga made a pledge some time ago that the Judiciary would clear the backlog of cases last year.

That did not happen, partly because of the shortage of courts and judicial officers. The backlog persists; so does the injustice inflicted on the affected individuals.

The need to expedite adjudication of cases has become more critical in recent times, especially with the renewed vigour to try corruption cases and end the vice.

PERFORMANCE

Indeed, the Judiciary has been put on the spot lately over alleged lethargy and non-responsiveness in hearing and determining cases quickly.

But that is only possible when the courts are expanded, more magistrates and judges recruited and proper facilities provided.

Beside the financials, the Judiciary should improve performance. Concerns over corruption, manipulation, lethargy and external interferences that alter the course of justice are not acceptable.

These are never related to finances but sheer dereliction of duty.

The Judiciary should be properly funded to execute its mandate. Even so, it must clean its house and up its game to justify the huge financial resources it is seeking.

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