Treasury restores Judiciary funds after Maraga protests

Friday, November 8th, 2019 08:00 |
Chief Justice David Maraga

The Judiciary breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after the National Treasury restored its recurrent and development budget for the 2019/20 financial year.

It will also now access the Sh18 billion allocated for fiscal projects starting in July from the Judiciary Fund. 

Though the Judiciary had requested for Sh33.3 billion, austerity measures across government saw Sh2.9 billion chopped from the money received this financial year.

According to the Judiciary, salaries had not been affected, but the development and recurrent budget had been halved.

The release of the funds was confirmed in a letter by Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi to the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).

Treasury’s move is expected to see a  resumption of  cases that had stalled for lack of money following austerity measures announced by acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani.

“We wish to confirm that the National Treasury has restored recurrent and development budget for 2019/2020 financial year. Thank you for your support in the matter,” she said in the letter dated November 6.

Due respect

On Monday, Chief Justice David Maraga accused some government officials, among them Cabinet and Principal Secretaries, of undermining the Judiciary by starving it of funds. 

An angry CJ also alleged a plot to oust him before the end of the year. 

He said the budget cut had affected operations and cited mobile courts which had been halted. 

During the press conference at the Supreme Court building, Maraga accused the Executive of treating the Judiciary contemptuously. 

He also said he was not being treated with the respect due to his office.

Since 2014, he said, the Judiciary budget has been shrinking with the institution receiving 0.69 per cent of the national budget this financial year.

Maraga said the Judiciary’s budget is dwindling despite work piling up, noting that out of the 400,000 cases filed annually, it only has the capacity to clear 300,000 hence the growing backlog.

Among the services that the Judiciary had halted for lack of funds include mobile courts and the Court of Appeal circuits held in Mombasa, Nyeri, Nakuru and Eldoret. 

Judiciary independence

LSK had filed a petition at the High Court on October 25, seeking orders to have Treasury implement approved Judiciary budget to allow its proper functioning.

LSK President Allen Gichuhi said they obtained interim orders, among them, compelling the National Treasury to fully implement duly approved Judiciary budget by drawing the necessary funds due to the Judiciary from the consolidated fund.

“We confirm that the orders were served on the National Treasury and all the other parties on the October 29,” Gichuhi said in a press statement.

Gichuhi welcomed Treasury’s decision, saying LSK is optimistic that there will be no further disruptions or interference with the independence of the Judiciary.

“We have received confirmation from the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary that the Judiciary’s recurrent and development budget for FY 2019/20 has been restored in the budget for the half year and been uploaded on IFMIS as approved by the National Assembly,” Gichuhi noted. 

The LSK petition came up on for mention November 6 for directions, where it sought extension of the court orders pending the hearing and determination of the petition.

On Monday, Maraga vowed to ensure the Judiciary asserts its right to remain independent and manage its own allocation as per the Constitution.

 “Moving forward, the Judiciary’s budget estimates will be taken to Parliament and not Treasury because we cannot continue begging for what belongs to us,” he said.

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