The financial crisis at the Judiciary manifested itself on Thursday after four judges failed to attend a court session in Mombasa for lack of travel allowance.
Justice Eric Ogola, who is based in Mombasa and was the only one present in court, apologised for the failure to have a full bench of five judges hear a petition.
“Four of the judges who reside out of Mombasa could not attend due to lack of finances. We shall therefore not be in a position to give substantial directions in the matter until such a time as the entire bench may be able to attend the mention,” said Justice Ogola.
The judges were to give direction in a petition in which three Mombasa residents are seeking to have the seaport run by the county government.
Justice Ogola said he was unable to make an order requiring the Chief Registrar of Judiciary Anne Amadi to attend court to explain why judges cannot be facilitated to travel to Mombasa.
“I know that the Chief Registrar has done everything possible that today’s matter proceeded but her effort has not been fruitful,” said Justice Ogola.
The Judiciary late last year locked horns with the Executive over deep budget cuts that critics said could imperil dispensation of justice in the country.
Lawyer Gikandi Ngibuini, representing one of the interested parties in the case, told Justice Ogola that the court’s work should not stop because there is no money to facilitate judges’ travel.
He urged the court to make an order requiring Ms Amadi to attend court to offer an explanation.
“Our clients cannot be told that there were no judges, the petitioners before you are unable to send their children to school,” argued Mr Ngibuini.
Senior Counsel Pheroze Nowrjee supported Mr Ngibuini saying the issue raised is a question of the rule of law.
Mr Nowrjee said the Chief Justice empanelled the bench knowing there are funds hence the need for Ms Amadi’s attendance to explain why the allowance was lacking.
Principal state counsel Nguyo Wachira told the court that it was unfortunate that justice cannot be delivered because of lack of resources.
The five- judge bench was to direct how the petition filed by Mr William Ramogi, Ms Asha Omar and Mr Gerald Kiti will be heard.
The petitioners want an order that port services be assigned to the national and county governments and management of the port is a function of the county government of Mombasa.