Third Eye

Tackle crisis in Court of Appeal

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021 00:00 |
Chief Justice Martha Koome greets her Supreme Court colleagues, on Monday. Photo/PD/File

With the assumption of office by new Chief Justice (CJ) Martha Koome, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has earned itself credit for conducting a considerably credible recruitment process. 

Koome’s appointment was momentous as the country’s first woman Chief Justice, a reward for many years of dedication, hard work and meritocracy.

  Her appointment will be an inspiration to girls countrywide, that with focus, discipline and commitment, their dreams are not beyond reach.  

The Constitution of Kenya (2010) emphasises independency of the Judiciary. 

It notes that an independent Judiciary is an important pillar in a constitutional democracy like Kenya, as it remains the key arbiter in conflicts and defence of the Constitution. 

That is why the magnitude of responsibility on Koome’s shoulders cannot be gainsaid.

We are encouraged that the new CJ demonstrated — both during the interview and in her acceptance speech — that she was fully aware of the tough task ahead and the expectations, faith and hope Kenyans had placed on her. 

As one of her colleagues pointed out, with her assumption of office “the rubber has met the road.” She must buckle up and lead.  

 The CJ has committed to ensure operationalisation of the Judiciary Fund, recruitment of more judges to address the nagging backlog of cases and construction of courts to ease access to justice. 

While we emphasise operationalisation of the Fund that is meant to give the Judiciary financial autonomy is long overdue, we are deeply concerned at what is morphing into a possible crisis at the Court of Appeal.

The promotion of Koome and Justice William Ouko to the Supreme Court, has worsened a personnel crisis in the already depleted institution. 

The situation is blamed on the unhealthy supremacy wars between the Executive and the Judiciary which have delayed the swearing in of 41 judges appointed by the JSC in May 2019, 11 of them for the appellate court.  The Environment and the Employment and Labour Relations Court are equally affected.

The net effect is delay in administration of justice, to the disadvantage of the common man, and the economy.  

The Constitution provides for independence of the three arms of government but also emphasises that they must work in mutual cooperation to serve public interest. 

It is in this spirit that we encourage the new Chief Justice, also the President of the Supreme Court, to summon her best abilities and wisdom and engage the other players to resolve the standoff over appointment of judges.

More on Third Eye