NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 1 – 209 poll petitions are at various appellate stages as contenders seek a review of decisions by lower courts.
The appeals with a mandatory completion timeline of six months include eleven at the Supreme Court, 105 at the Court of Appeal, and 93 at the High Court according to official data published by the judiciary on Wednesday.
Of the 209 appeals, all the eleven at the Supreme Court are yet to be determined according to the statistics compiled by July 27.
They include gubernatorial appeals for Wajir, Kirinyaga, Machakos, and Kwale.
Others are parliamentary election appeals for Eldama Ravine, and Embakasi South.
A senatorial election appeal for Malindi is also pending.
A total of twelve appeals have been allowed at the Court of Appeal with the High Court allowing 25.
There are 23 appeals at the Court of Appeal and 27 at the High Court yet to be determined.
The appeals at the Court of Appeal include 30 gubernatorial poll disputes, eight senatorial petitions, five involving Women Representative slots, 54 contesting parliamentary seats, a County Assembly Speaker petition, four involving positions for Member of County Assembly, and three appeals on party lists.
At the High Court, there are 50 appeals challenging the outcomes of petitions involving positions of Member of County Assembly, and 43 seeking a review of party list decisions by Magistrate Courts.
The Court of Appeal and the High Court have also dismissed 50 and 27 appeals respectively.
388 poll disputes had filled following last year’s election all of which had gone through the first-tier hearing stage by March 6.
While the first-tier of poll petitions was concluded within constitutional timelines, there are fears that the 209 petitions in various appeal stages could be delayed due to financial constraints occasioned by budget cuts.
The Judicial Service Commission recently protested the revision of its allocation from Sh 17.3 billion in the 2018/19 national budgetary policy statement to Sh 14.5 billion in the Appropriation Act leaving it with only Sh 50 million in development budget.
The judiciary had asked for Sh 31.3 billion during the budget making process as it sought to invest in court modernization and automation seen as critical to the prompt dispensation of justice, resolution of poll disputes included.
The delayed adoption of a transcription system in election courts has been cited as a key impediment to the timely resolution of poll disputes in the country.
According the Judiciary Committee on Elections (JCE) Annual Report (2017) presented to Chief Justice David Maraga in July, hand written recordings of court proceedings coupled with the shortage of typing staff led, in some cases, delay judgments in respect to election petitions.
“While it had been envisaged that election courts would be served by the transcription system, it did not work as envisaged. This meant that the gazetted election courts had to revert to hand writing of proceedings,” the report reads in part.
The Justice Msagha Mbogholi-led committee also noted National Assembly’s failure to consider some of the amendments it had fronted including a proposal to limit election appeals to one tier and extending the time within which the Supreme Court is to determine a presidential election petition from fourteen to twenty-one days as issues that need to be addressed to improve efficiency in Election Dispute Resolution.
Under the current legal framework, election petition appeals originating from the lower courts have found their way to the Supreme Court with parties often launching multiple appeals.