Chief Justice David Maraga today directed the Court of Appeal to ensure they reduced the age of the oldest cases in their systems to less than one year.
He said this was the only way the people of Kenya, particularly the business community who hurt most from delayed justice, can have confidence in the justice system.
While opening the new Court of Appeal station in Mombasa, the CJ said currently there were about 4,000 cases in the appellate court.
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice William Ouko, said special service week sessions would be lauched at the Mombasa court next month, and in other parts of the country thereafter such as Nakuru, Kisumu and Nyeri, in an effort to clear the backlog.
The Judiciary has started recruiting 11 additional judges for the court, which has only 19 against a constitutional allowance of 30. Three judges are due to retire in the course of the year.
The new recruitment will enhance the ability of the court to cut the backlog towards the target of having the appeals heard in real-time – without any delays, Judge Ouko said.
Judicial Service Commission Vice Chair, Mercy Deche, said the Commission was keen to work with various stakeholders. She said the JSC has so far visited Governors in seven counties with a view to ensuring that the decisions that they make in the boardroom resonate with the people Judiciary serves.
The Mombasa court will work as a circuit station since Malindi is the gazetted Court of Appeal station for the region. The court moved there in 2013 due to the heavy congestion in the Mombasa Courts.
Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho said his government was keen to work with the Judiciary to ensure it achieved the highest levels of efficiency in order to serve the people better. He said he would set aside land in different parts of the county for contstruction of courts in future.
The Mombasa Court of Appeal building was built in 1902 and launched by the then Commissioner of British East Africa Protectorate, Sir Charles Eliot. The current renovations involved repainting the building, replacement of broken tiles, putting the acoustic ceiling, external works such as building of ramp and gate house, drilling a borehole and installation of air conditioning systems. The building is one of Kenya’s richest in historical significance, with some artefacts dating back to the occupation of the Kenya coast by the Portuguese several centuries ago.
It will have two courts, four chambers, two registries and a raft of other facilities.
Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki also attended the function.
Earlier, CJ Maraga inspected the progress of the new High Court building under construction next to the Mombasa Law Courts. The contractor, Mr Ibrahim Ibrahim of Bashash Construction Ltd, gave the CJ an undertaking that the construction would be complete by end of December this year.
Justice Towers is being built on a piece of land that had previously been illegally allocated to individuals but Mombasa lawyers waged fierce court battles to get it back from the grabbers. This victory is captured in the name given to the building – Justice Towers.
During the Court of Appeal function, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu said the Mombasa Appeal Court project was in accordance with the first pillar of the CJ’s blueprint, Sustaining Judiciary Transformation, as it enhanced access to justice.