Chief Justice David Maraga has said the Judiciary will not play second fiddle to any organ of the government in an escalating war of words with key politicians.
The Judiciary has equal stature as the Executive and Legislative arms of government, Justice Maraga has said in the wake of what he regards as denigrating public comments by politicians.
“The Judiciary is not the third arm of government but one of the three arms with equal stature and grit as the other two,” he said in a speech delivered during a Law Society of Kenya (LSK) conference in Kwale.
The Judiciary has lately engaged key politicians in a war of words as the Supreme Court prepares to determine the presidential election petition lodged by the Opposition.
Mr Maraga has since warned both Opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta against questioning the Judiciary’s integrity in public.
In a speech read by Court of Appeal President Kihara Kariuki, the chief justice said the frequent attacks on courts were “illustrative of our still developing democracy and symptomatic of a society struggling to come to terms with the limitations placed on the path of excessive authority by our progressive constitution.
“Central to this is the unwavering respect for judicial orders and decisions, one of the foundational principles in any concept of the rule of law,” he said
The theme of LSK’s two-day conference is Safeguarding the Rule of Law and Democratic Rights. Justice Maraga also said the Judiciary was committed to transforming how it delivers services.
“We will be heavily embracing ICT in our court sessions,” he said. Justice Kariuki said the Judiciary was doing away with old methods in court proceedings and replacing them with automatic transcription.
“The old scenario of a judge scribbling furiously as you make your submission will finally come to an end,” he told lawyers. He said that the transformation will speed up access to case files, case processing and dispensation of justice.
Mr Maraga said the Judiciary will put in place a comprehensive case management system, initially on a pilot basis, aimed at bringing about better coordination of cases.
“The system will minimise information loses and ultimately contribute to attainment of fair justice to all,” he said.
In a bid to reduce the cost and risks of transporting judicial officials, paralegal staff, litigants, witnesses and advocates to court, the Judiciary, he said, will introduce video conferencing technology.
Mr Maraga said the move will contribute to clearing the huge backlog of cases, adding that they plan to clear all five-year old cases by the end of 2018.
“I can confirm to you that we are on course to achieve the goal. In 2011 we had one million old cases but today we have about 400,000,” he said.