MOMBASA, Kenya, Aug 20 – Chief Justice David Maraga has assured that progress made so far in clearing of case backlog will be sustained as the Judiciary moves to eliminate cases pending in the court system for a prolonged period.
Speaking during the 2019 Annual Judges Colloquium in Mombasa on Monday, Maraga said courts have managed to bring down cases that are five years old from 110,000, that were in the system last year, to only 15,278 cases.
The Chief Justice said strategies such as service weeks that were employed by the courts enable the Judiciary to attain the success in case backlog reduction.
“Efficacious and efficient disposal of matters remains our core promise to the people we serve. Some cases take inordinately long to resolve. We must, therefore, never tire of interrogating the issue of backlog clearance,” the Chief Justice said.
Justice Maraga said all stations developed action plans aimed at bringing the case backlog down. He added the Judiciary was also looking at increased use of technology as a way of speeding up its work.
“So where are we now? As of June this year, the number of cases older than five years in all the superior Courts – the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) and the Environment and Land Court (ELC) – had come down to 15,278, no doubt a remarkable achievement on your part considering that this figure includes the cases that transited to the five-year band in the course of the clearance campaign,” the CJ said.
The Chief Justice urged judges to benchmark with courts that have had significant case backlog reduction in order to utilize the means and methods applied in the success in their own courts so that to achieve uniform case reduction across the country.
Maraga said the Annual Judges Colloquium has gradually become an integral part of the work for judges. He said, during the event, judges spend time away from their chambers to reflect on the past year as well as to plan for the year ahead.
The CJ said the theme of this year’s colloquium, “Balancing Judicial Independence and Accountability” is deeply relevant adding that independence, however, also comes with a lot of responsibility, for which judges must account at all times both at individual and institutional levels.
“We must account both in terms of the quality of our work as well as its quantitative value – how strictly we adhere to the rule of law, and how proficiently and efficiently we manage the cases that come before us,” Justice Maraga said.
The Chief Justice said the colloquium will provide an opportunity for judges to receive feedback on their work.
He said the Judiciary has also developed and deployed a Case Tracking System (CTS) to monitor and manage the progress of cases.
“This year alone the CTS has been used to track over 400,000 ongoing cases in 49 out of 132 Court Stations. With the marginally improved funding that we have received this year, we will be expanding the case tracking system to cover all our courts,” the CJ added.
He said the Judiciary leadership is keen on the implementation of the recently launched organization review report whose recommendations include the restructuring of directorates and court stations for efficient and harmonious operations, and the establishment of new units to manage additional processes that are not substantively catered for under the current institutional structure.
Others who addressed the conference are Deputy CJ Philomena Mwilu, Court of Appeal president Justice William Ouko, Judiciary Training Institute (JTI) Director Justice Kathurima M’Inoti and Senior Counsel Fred Ojiambo.