Austerity measures recently announced by the government as part of its effort to reduce the government recurrent expenditure has paralyzed operations at the Judiciary.
The declaration by Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatan over the intended reduction of the Judiciary’s budget by 50 per cent has left part of the Judiciary dysfunctional with many departments cancelling scheduled sittings and services.
In documents seen by Kahawa Tungu, the National Environment Tribunal recently cancelled its sittings for a period of over two months citing the budgetary austerity measures as the reason for the decision.
“The National Treasury has reduced our budget by 50%. Consequently, we are unable to conduct our sittings from October to December 2019,” a memo dated October 22 and addressed to all advocates, litigants and the general public reads in part.
The tribunal requested advocates with judgements on notice to wait for “further communication”.
Decrying the current state of affairs, the National Civil Aviation Administrative Tribunal also announced the suspension of its sittings from October until further notice.
The Environment and Land Court In Nakuru recently notified all advocates and litigants in ELC petition No.12 & 13 of 2018 that due to the budgetary cuts the court had been unable to facilitate the three-Judge Bench hearing that was scheduled for today, October 28, 2019, hence, postponing the session until further notice.
“Parties will be notified of new dates through their advocates once directions are given, ” the notice reads in part.
In another case, the Employment and Labour Relations Court has notified all advocates and litigants change of the venue of its scheduled meeting from Malindi to Mombasa. The meeting began today and is expected to end on Friday, November 1.
Already the Law Society of Kenya has filed a petition to challenge the budgetary cut.
In a suit filed at the High Court on Friday last week, LSK argued that the move threatens the dispensation of justice in the country.
The proposed austerity measures cuts on recurrent and development funds.
“While the LSK and the public should commend the austerity measures adopted by the Executive, the effect of the same on independent arms of the government [such as] the Judiciary will greatly paralyse dispensation of justice, ” LSK’s Chief Executive Officer Mercy Wambua states in a sworn affidavit.
LSK warns that the directive will lead to immediate suspension of judicial service weeks, operations of mobile courts and all tribunal sittings, roll-out of the ICT programme and internet services to all courts in Kenya.
“Reduction of the Judiciary’s funds will greatly hamper the fight against corruption and administration of justice. It will also stall the development projects in the Judiciary, ” she adds.
The society is seeking an order restraining the Labour CS or his officers from interfering with the Judiciary’s budget, as duly approved by the National Assembly, pending an inter-parties’ hearing and determination of the suit.