With increasing concerns of the Executive trying to muzzle the Judiciary by reducing its budget, former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has weighed in on the matter, lashing out at the National Assembly for also being a barrier to Judicial independence.
Speaking during an exhibition to celebrate Kenyan heroes at the Kenya Methodist University in Meru on Thursday, Mutunga accused the Executive and the National Assembly of frustrating the Judiciary by denying it funds to perform its functions.
Mutunga, who doubles up as a human rights activist, stated that adequate funding will ensure that the third arm of government is not controlled by the Executive and cartels, as its “independence is very critical”.
With enough funds, Mutunga said, the Judiciary will be able to create a conducive working environment for its magistrates and judges as well as build enough courts hence clear case backlogs in courts.
“We must make it clear to Executive and assembly that the money is not theirs. Judiciary is the victim. But Kenyans think Judiciary is the problem,” Mutunga said during the exhibition organised Team Courage, a movement of activists calling for good governance.
In a parent reference to a “revisit” comment made by President Uhuru Kenyatta after the Supreme court nullified his re-election in 2017, Mutunga stated that state organs should not hold grudges against the Judiciary.
Questioning the source of funds being used by the state to sell the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) agenda countrywide by the President and his handshake partner Raila Odinga, Mutunga said the government should not use public funds to finance political rallies.
Mutunga’s comments come just days after President Kenyatta objected CJ Maraga’s appeal for more funds.
Speaking on January 23 during the annual launch of State of the Judiciary and Administration of Justice report for the year 2018-2019, Maraga said budget cuts had crippled the Judiciary.
“What we are asking for is not a lot, and could be just half of what the ministry of health is allocated, let us be considered as an arm of the government,” said Maraga.
He further noted that courts other than the Supreme Court were operating below 50 per cent.
The President, however, differed with Maraga saying the body should think outside the box due to the current financial crisis the government is facing.
“When we propose tax measures to raise more money for our operations, the Judiciary is quick to issue an injunction, the same body is quick to say it is not properly funded to carry out its duties. The revenue is still the same and the cuts were meant for everybody,” the President said.
He added, “The government is ready to finance the Judiciary but you also need to think outside the box, due to internal evaluation.”