President William Ruto plans to increase the Judiciary budget by an additional Sh3 billion for the next five years in a bid to make courts financially independent.
The Judiciary has over the years suffered budget cuts that saw former Chief Justice David Maraga bitterly complain about the crippling effects on their operations.
In the 2022-23 budget, the Judiciary was allocated Sh18.9 billion, a Sh1 billion increase from the previous year’s.
This was despite the Judiciary having sought Sh39.56 billion to fund its operations and an additional Sh5 billion for election-related cases.
The Judiciary Fund was operationalised on July 1.
“My administration will scale up the budgetary allocation to the Judiciary by an additional Sh3 billion annually for the next five years,” Dr Ruto said.
He added that his administration will respect court decisions even as he promised to swear in six judges who were left out by his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta, in June last year.
The six judges include Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Weldon Korir and Aggrey Muchelule who were being promoted to the Court of Appeal. Evans Makori and Judith Omange Cheruiyot were nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) as judges of the Labour court.
“To consolidate the place of the Judiciary in our constitutional and democratic dispensation, my administration will respect judicial decisions while we cement the place of Kenya as a country anchored on democracy and the rule of law,” Dr Ruto said.
He also pledged to increase the number of small claims courts from the current 25 to 100. Small claims courts handle cases valued at less than Sh1 million and were introduced as part of plans to reduce case backlog, which has bogged down the Judiciary over the years.
Dr Ruto also pledged to build High Courts stations in the remaining 7 counties, saying the interventions will help speed up the conclusion of cases.
He at the same time promised to make the office of the Inspector-General of Police independent by transferring the budget from the Office of the President and designating the police boss as the accounting officer.
“As required by Article 245 of the Constitution, the Inspector-General of Police is mandated to exercise independent command over the National Police Service. The services’ operational autonomy, however, has been undermined by the continued financial dependence on the Office of the President. This situation is going to change,” he said.
He said financial independence for the police will boost the fight against corruption, and end the ‘political weaponisation of the criminal justice system’.
The new President also said the office of the Auditor-General and the Controller of Budget will be adequately funded to execute their mandate as he assured public officers that his administration will respect their professional service, and no public servant, even chiefs and their assistants, will be required to run political errands.