Kenya, Nov 2 – The the Judges and Magistrates Association on Saturday said Parliament would be interfering with the independence of the Judiciary should it reduce its budgetary allocation.
The Secretary General of the Judges and Magistrates Association Bryan Khaemba said justice would not be adequately furnished should the Judiciary be denied the resources to furnish it.
“Who is Parliament trying to punish? By seeking to reduce the Judiciary fund, who will be punished at the end of the day? How can Justice be dispensed efficiently and expeditiously without important things like pens, papers desks and water? Judicial officers cannot operate with minimum funds,” he stated.
He said the accusations that hefty and unnecessary allowances were paid out to the Judicial Service Commissioners were as yet unsubstantiated and should not be used as an excuse to cut the Judiciary’s funding.
“The JSC performs its duties in the capacity that it has been given by the law and we are intrigued that other arms of government being adverse to fighting corruption want to interfere,” he said.
Khaemba argued that if Parliament has its way, Kenya would return to the dark days where Justice was delayed and many times not guaranteed.
“The time when the Executive and the Legislature used to control justice through reducing and making the Judiciary beg for budgetary allocation ended with the promulgation of the Constitution. Some institutions are still stuck in these hay-days and we are asking Kenyans not to cease their vigilance against these vices,” he said.
Khaemba said that the Judiciary has been in the struggle to assert its operational independence since 1963 and the transformation agenda was now under attack by Parliament.
Parliament’s threat to cut the Judiciary’s budget emanated from revelations made by the former Chief Registrar of the Judiciary to the effect that the JSC was misusing funds.
Shollei last month told Parliament’s Budget Committee that her tribulations within the institution were attributed to the fact that she blew the whistle on the misuse of funds.
Shollei explained that the stalemate between her and the JSC was a result of questioning stupendous allowances paid out to the members.
“The issue of allowances has been the cause of all the trouble I have been in whilst at the Judiciary. This is after I raised the issue that the JSC have no part to play in matters related to finances yet they insist on their involvement in financial management,” she said.
She told the Parliamentary Budget Committee that she had on a number of occasions been forced to dance to their tune saying, “I have sometimes let it happen just to save my job making sure not to make enemies.”
The committee asked the registrar to give a breakdown of the expenditure of the commission and she said:
“The sitting allowances total to a staggering amount of money as members earned between Sh1.9 million and Sh17 in allowances for sittings from 2011 to 2013. Further breaking down would indicate that with each sitting, the commission members earn between Sh20, 000 and Sh80, 000.”