Chief Justice David Maraga has issued a stern warning against Judges and Magistrates who he accuses of sabotaging efforts to conduct court hearings remotely as the country adopts stringent measures to combat the spread of novel Coronavirus.
In an internal memo seen by this writer addressed to all Judges and Magistrates, the CJ stated that the frustrations had depicted the Judiciary in a bad light.
“It has come to my notice that a few of us are frustrating, nay sabotaging, our efforts to conduct proceedings remotely and as a result, we are being barraged with all manner of complaints and insults,” reads the memo dated April 23.
The CJ further expressed his disappointment that some Judges and Magistrates were hearing matters only on Thursdays despite clear directives to increase weekly hearing sessions as they are all on duty during the partial COVID-19 lockdown.
“Colleagues, let me make it quite clear that we are all on duty. I will not allow any of us to cause problems for the entire institution, ” he asserted.
Mid last month Maraga announced suspension of hearings and mention of civil cases as part of measures to tame the spread of COVID-19. The Judiciary staff were also allowed to work from home.
The CJ’s directive saw the Judiciary operate with a lean staff. Some courts have been issuing rulings and judgment online, using video conferencing and holding sessions in open spaces until early this week when Maraga ruled out open court sessions, for now, citing the risk of the transmission of the contagious disease.
Maraga has now called on all those who were giving excuses of having issues with technology to liaise with the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) team.
“Those of you who have no Wi-Fi at home should work from their chambers and if they have none there, they should seek assistance from the CRJ (Chief Registrar of Judiciary Ann Amadi),” the CJ said.
Maraga directed the juries to make good use of the time they have now to write and deliver all pending rulings by May 30.
“In this partial lock-down, we have a lot of time to clear our pending judgments,” he said.
“Those scheduled to be delivered later than that date should, with notice to the parties, be brought forward to us to demonstrate that we are indeed working.”
The CJ further directed the judges to file their monthly returns from April 30 via email directly to him until further notice.
Maraga’s letter comes days after the Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA) protested a move to scale up court operations.
In a letter to the National Council of Administration of Justice (NCAJ), chaired by Maraga, the union secretary-general Derrick Kuto stated that there is need to prioritise the health of judicial workers.