, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked courts of law to be mindful of the implications of their decisions on the general well-being of Kenyans.
In his speech during the release of the State of the Judiciary and the Administration of Justice Report, (SOJAR) 2016-2017 at the Supreme Court on Friday, President Kenyatta said it was imperative that the judiciary, in discharging its mandate, worked on achieving the national aspirations in tandem the other two arms of government: the executive and the legislature.
“While exercising its mandate the judiciary must be mindful of the effects of its actions on the other arms of government and how it will affect the lives of ordinary Kenyans,” the Head of State remarked.
“Any decision that negatively affects the desire of a better, prosperous life of the average Kenyan, or their safety and well-being should be carefully interrogated before being undertaken,” he pointed out.
According to President Kenyatta, courts needed to close the existing gap some of its rulings have created with the public, the ordinary mass often failing to understand them as they are often “shrouded in intrigues that only the elite may understand”.
After all, President Kenyatta said judicial authority is derived from the people having been entrusted to courts of law through the Constitution.
The President urged judicial officers to discharge their mandate in fairness and firmness so that they can secure the backing of Kenyans in their efforts to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.
“The overwhelming public interest in some of the matters in courts, such as corruption, land rights and maladministration demands timely conclusion of those matters. It also calls for a decisive determination that the citizen can relate with,” said President Kenyatta.
While executing their mandate, Kenyatta advised judicial officers to be conscious of criticism that comes with holding public office saying they too – just like politicians – must learn to manage unfriendly remarks.
“You ought to accept that criticism comes with the office. Whether in media, in the journals, in the public baraza – social media and even from me – Kenyans will have their say, and little enough of it will be flattering,” he said.
“That’s democracy, and I have learned that one does two things in response: first, simply grow a thick skin; second, consult,” President Kenyatta told the close to two hundred judges at the event among them Supreme Court judges lead by Chief Justice David Maraga and Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, other superior court judges, and magistrates.
Kenyatta emphasised on the need for the Judiciary to work with the Executive and the legislature saying the three arms of government are tasked with working for a united nation with one agenda: improving the economic welfare of citizens.
“All parts of government should work in concert towards the realization of justice within our community. Administration of justice is attained when the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary work together and not just when the Judiciary acts alone,” he remarked.
President Kenyatta also committed to lobbying Parliament’s support to actualise Judiciary’s expansion plan top on its agenda the construction of a Court of Appeal building in Upper Hill.
The court is currently housed at the Supreme Court.
“We should be conscious of the Judiciary’s needs and we should render our support without delay or undue hesitation,” he said.
“The Executive should offer the relevant backing for implementation of judicial decisions and Parliament should not only pass relevant legislation but also avail sufficient resources to the Judiciary,” Kenyatta pointed out.
He was quick to point out that cooperation between the three arms of government as envisaged in the Constitution should not be mistaken for interference.
Kenyatta emphasised that the three arms are independent but interdependent.
“Consultation between the organs of Government is a constitutional principle and cannot be misunderstood to allow interference with the independent mandates of the organs of Government,” he insisted.
President Kenyatta also asked the Judiciary to quicken the resolution of commercial disputes which he said risk derailing economic progress.
“There is still a long delay in resolution of commercial cases. It still takes an average of 459 days to resolve one case according to World Bank data. We have to find a way to reduce this sharply. It hurts business,” he said.
Also in attendance at the event were National Assembly and Senate Speakers Justin Muturi and Kenneth Lusaka.
The two houses of Parliament are expected to debate and adopt SOJAR 2016-2017 which has already been gazetted.