Chief Justice David Maraga has assured Kenyans that 4,000 appellate court cases will be cleared by the end of this year.
Justice Maraga tasked Court of Appeal President William Ouko to expedite the process and make it a reality.
Addressing residents at the refurbished Court of Appeal offices in Mombasa, Mr Maraga said delays in delivering judgement are hurting many Kenyans.
He stressed that the situation should not be allowed to continue in the modern dispensation.
“Mr Ouko, I know there are about 4,000 cases there, and I think you can make an effort of reducing them, or even clear them by the end of this year,” the Chief Justice said.
“I know it has been painful for most Kenyans seeking judicial services, but we have to strive within our means to assist them,” Mr Maraga added.
He said that since taking over, he had managed to reduce the backlog of cases that were more than five years old by 87 per cent.
He promised to clear the remaining 13 per cent by the end of the year. “When I took over, one of my objective was to reduce backlog in our courts and this was targeted at the cases that had stayed for more than five years without judgement,” he noted.
“Today, we only have 13 per cent of those cases remaining. Hopefully, by the end of this year we shall have cleared them,” he said.
Mr Maraga said the Judiciary is planning to hire 11 more Court of Appeal judges to enhance the quality of services Kenyans are offered.
“We have courts of appeal in Malindi, Nyeri, Kisumu and Nairobi, and each of these ought to have between three and five judges to run well. Unfortunately, we only have 19 judges. We are planning to hire 11 more to make them 30 judges,” he said.
Mr Maraga observed that an efficient justice system encourages investments. “I recently received some investors in my office who said they were eager to invest in Kenya but on condition that the efficiency in delivering judgment is prioritised. That means we must work hard to win the trust of investors,” he said.
The Chief Justice added: “Beginning next year, we have decided that no appeal case shall take longer than three years as has been the norm. In some instances, we would like to have cases cleared within one year.”
Mr Maraga gave an example of Singapore, where cases are settled fast. “That is the reason many people are rushing to invest there, and there is good business. We should emulate their good example.”
Attorney General Paul Kihara said corruption is a big hindrance to economic and social progress in the country.
“Until we deal with this disease called corruption, we shall not be safe. So, I appeal to each and every one of us – judges and magistrates, governors, senators, the Executive and the people of Kenya – to cooperate to fight corruption to the end,” he said.
Some of those in attendance were Court of Appeal President William Ouko, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, Senator Mohamed Faki, and Mombasa County Commissioner Evans Achoki.