Court compels SRC to implement decree on judges’ pay

Thursday, December 17th, 2020 00:00 |
Justice George Odunga.

The High Court has issued an order compelling the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to implement orders issued in 2019 to pay all judges equal salaries.

In his judgement, Justice George Odunga said judges, whether appointed from within the Judiciary or outside, perform similar tasks and should be remunerated equally. 

“I hereby issue an order, compelling SRC to implement and effect the decree dated March 13, regarding the judgment of this court dated the December 18, 2019.

JSC is similarly directed to take the necessary steps within its mandate to facilitate the satisfaction of the said decree”, ruled Odunga. 

JSC in its submissions showed that the mandate of determining remuneration of judges falls within the docket of the SRC.  

JSC said it has already taken steps towards fulfilling the decree  as its mandate is concerned and SRC whose mandate is to determine the remuneration, has  not responded to the motion. 

“It has not given any reason why the decree has not been satisfied,” said JSC. This is after a private citizen-Sollo Nzuki moved to court seeking to compel the SRC and JSC to implement and effect the decree. 

Odunga in December last year, declared SRC communication on remuneration of judges and magistrates contained in a letter dated June 10, 2013 as discriminatory.

The SRC subjected judges appointed in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to a lesser starting salary than the starting pay of those appointed prior to that period. 

It is said that SRC and JSC paid judges appointed in 2014 to 2015 to a much lesser amount of Sh532,500 while those in 2011 to 2012 are paid Sh688,658.

On the earlier decision, the court declared that the appointment to the office of judge of the High Court of Kenya or a judge of courts of equal status and all persons appointed to office of judge of the high court and courts of equal status are entitled to similar starting remuneration and benefits. 

Odunga said in subjecting judges to a disparity in their remuneration based on their origin, SRC had created a differentiation between the judges based on one’s choice of where to ply their trade whether in the private or public sector. 

 That differentiation, he held, was not permissible under any law and could not be justified. 

He observed that it was upon the SRC to set remuneration in such a way that each tier of the Judiciary was remunerated in accordance with its superior rank.  

“A system where, for example, a magistrate’s remuneration is higher than that of a judge of a superior court, flies in the face of judicial hierarchy and is unacceptable,” ruled the judge.

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