News

Courts’ earnings from fines hit Sh1.6 billion

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A court session in progress. Cases that had been in court for three years and above fell to 44 percent of the total backlog of 341,056 cases in 2018/2019 period. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The improved collections from fines lifted the Judiciary’s total revenue by 30 percent to stand at Sh2.69 billion.
  • Judiciary notes that the revenue target that the National Treasury set for it has been growing at a higher rate than the actual collections.
  • The rise in revenue collection comes at a time the Judiciary and the Executive have clashed over budget cuts.

Courts grew their revenue collection from fines by 46 percent to Sh1.64 billion in the year to June 2019, helped by faster hearing and conclusion of cases, a new report has shown.

The improved collections from fines lifted the Judiciary’s total revenue by 30 percent to stand at Sh2.69 billion. Despite the increase in total revenue, the amount accounted for 59 percent of the Sh4.54 billion that the Treasury had expected the Judiciary to collect, meaning that it fell shot of expectation.

“The increase is attributed to various factors, including faster conclusion of cases,” the Judiciary says in its annual report for 2018/2019.

A total of 484,349 cases were filed in all courts. Of these 343,109 were criminal cases while another 141,240 were civil cases. Out of all the cases filed, 469,359 were resolved. These comprised 300,728 criminal and 168,631 civil cases.

During the period under review, cases that had been in court for three years and above fell to 44 percent of the total backlog of 341,056 cases. In 2017/2018, the backlog stood at 45 percent. A case is classified as a backlog if it remains unresolved one year after being filed.

According to the report, fees grew by 11 percent from Sh952 million to Sh1.055 billion. The Judiciary attributed the growth to the increase in the number of cases filed. Courts received 484,349 cases in the period under review, up from 402,243 the year before.

“The growth in revenue could also be attributed to non-handling of hard cash and adherence to the set reporting time frames, to ensure that revenue is surrendered and reported in the period in which it is earned,” said the Judiciary.

Court deposits, which include cash bails paid to secure the release of accused persons as the case progresses and monies deposited in court as security especially in civil matters, grew 45 percent to Sh7.4 billion in the year under review. The Judiciary notes that the revenue target that the National Treasury set for it has been growing at a higher rate than the actual collections. This has led to a decreasing rate of attainment of the targets.

The Judiciary usually receives revenue on behalf of the government, comprising court fines, fees, forfeitures and other charges. Fines refer to the money ordered by the court for an offender to pay as a condition for his or her release.

The rise in revenue collection comes at a time the Judiciary and the Executive have clashed over budget cuts. In the financial year starting July 2020, the Treasury has proposed that the Judiciary gets Sh13.65 billion, which is 29 percent lower than the Sh19.2 billion in the current financial year.

Citing cash constraints, the Judiciary last year suspended several projects such as implementation of the court recording system in 80 courtrooms as well as the rollout of a case tracking system. Its budget is usually less than one percent of the total allocation to the three arms of government; the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature. This is in contrast with the recommended minimum funding of 2.5 percent of the national Budget as contained in the 2011 Ouko Report on judicial reforms.

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta turned down a request by Chief Justice David Maraga to consider a higher allocation to the Judiciary. Treasury has embarked on the Budget-making process that is expected to culminate in the presentation of the spending proposals in Parliament in June.