CJ Maraga says Judiciary unfairly targeted in budget cuts

Written By: KBC Reporters
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CJ Maraga

Chief Justice David Maraga has decried budget cuts directed at Judiciary by the National Treasury.

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In a press briefing Monday morning, the CJ said service delivery at the corridors of justice will be greatly jeopardized if court operations are not adequately financed.

” I have called you here today to make a statement on the developing crisis in the Judiciary concerning budget cuts. I am making this statement to correct some of the misleading statements made last week regarding the cuts and to give Kenyans the big picture behind the drastic cuts to the Judiciary Budget. I would like the public to know the reason why we are currently not able to offer certain services to the public.”

A visibly irritated Maraga claimed that the executive has been treating the judicial arm of the state with contempt even as he disclosed plans to oust him before expiry of his term.

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“Under our Constitution as stated in Article 1, All sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with the Constitution. The people of Kenya have delegated the exercise of that power to the three Arms of Government, that is, the Judiciary, the Legislature and the Executive as well as to the Independent Commissions established under the Constitution; Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies are expected to exercise the people’s legislative authority at the National and County levels respectively. The people’s executive power is to be exercised by the National Executive at the National level and the Executive Structures at the County level. In the same breath, the people’s Judicial authority is to be exercised by the Judiciary and Independent Tribunals established under the Constitution. All these organs are to exercise the functions delegated to each of them as stated in the Constitution. For these organs to operate properly, require to be reasonably funded.”

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“Article 95(4)(b) bestows upon the National Assembly authority to appropriate funds for expenditure by the National Government and other National State organs. Article 127(6)(c) provides that the Parliamentary Service Commission prepares the annual estimates of expenditure and forwards them to Parliament for approval; Article 173(3) requires the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary to prepare and submit estimates of the Judiciary’s expenditure each year to the National Assembly for approval; Under Article 221(1) of the Constitution, the Cabinet Secretary responsible for finance submits to the National Assembly estimates of revenue and expenditure of the national government for the next year”

Angered by the current state of affairs, the CJ says he will launch budget plea with the National Assembly to have the legislators consider giving the judiciary a reasonable percentage of the national budget.

” Upon consideration and approval of the budget estimates of Parliament, the Judiciary and the National Government, Article 221(3) & (6) provides that those estimates shall be included in an Appropriation Bill which shall be introduced in the National Assembly for purposes of authorizing the withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund of the money needed for the expenditure; Once the Appropriation Act is passed “the Cabinet Secretary for Finance has no control over the Parliamentary or Judiciary Budget. However he has, with the approval of the National Assembly, limited control over the National Government’s budget Under Article 225 of the Constitution.” Upon approval of the Judiciary Budget by the National Assembly, Article 173(6) directs the Treasury to deposit the Judiciary Budget in the Judiciary Fund. To the best of my recollection, the Constitution does not give such direction in respect of the budget of any other State Organ.”

Maraga also condemned interference on the work of the judiciary by other arms of government terming this as an attempt to control the judiciary. He says all the three arms of government are equal and thus one should not direct the other.

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” However, the provisions above have not been implemented by the Treasury as required by the Constitution. Immediately after the Promulgation of the Constitution, and pursuant to Article 173, the Judiciary tabled its 2011/12 & 2012/13 budget proposals in the National Assembly and they were approved. In 2013/14 financial year, the National Assembly allocated to the Judiciary Kes. 17.827 billion representing 0.99 per cent of the national budget — the highest budget the Judiciary has ever received.”

” The following year, however, the acting Chief Registrar of the Judiciary was directed to take the Judiciary Budget Estimates to Treasury and the Judiciary was thereafter put into the category of Governance, Justice, Law & Order Sector (GJLOS), comprising the Ministry of Internal Security, Police, the Attorney-General, IEBC, prisons, and others; The main challenge with these arrangements is that some of the institutions in the GJLOS Sector (Internal Security, the Police, the Prisons, the State Law Office, etc) have some of the resources ring-fenced. The result is that the Judiciary is made to share the remaining little resources, resulting in serious underfunding of judicial core judicial functions. This is evidenced by the declining budgetary allocation  to the Judiciary over the years. ? 2017/18 – Kshs.14.652 billion – 0.69 per cent of the National Budget; ? 2018/19 – Kshs.16.096 billion – 0.66 per cent of the National Budget;  2019/20 — Kshs.18.857 billion – 0.69 per cent.”

He however assured all judges and magistrates that he will protect them against all forms of attack but challenged them not to be compromised in their work.

“I have now instructed the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary to take our next Budget Proposals to Parliament, and not the Treasury, so that when we have no funds to build courts or even to operate as is happening now, the people of Kenya will know who to ask — their Members of Parliament. Contrary to remarks that have been expressed by politicians and others who have denied the existence of budget cuts in the Judiciary, the actual current situation is that a number of critical processes in the courts and the Judiciary will be severely crippled. We have been criticized of playing politics whenever we raise these concerns. The implication of these statements is that we may be deliberately holding funds to make a statement. However, I want to challenge Kenyans to understand that we cannot play games, especially with an important issue such as resourcing the Judiciary. The truth of the matter is that the amount available to us in the system has been reduced. Only the amount that goes to salaries has been spared; our development and recurrent expenditure has been slashed by 50 per cent, which works out to Kshs 2.9 billion; and the entire ICT vote of Kshs.400 million has been cut!.”

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He at the same time alleged plans to oust him from office before expiry of his term.

“Some Cabinet secretaries are saying I will go before the year ends, kumbe hii Kenya ina wenyewe?”

On the war against graft, Maraga called on Kenyans to be patient and allow the Judiciary and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to follow the  rule of law in dealing with corruption related cases which he says take long to conclude.

He defended judges and Magistrates against criticism with an assurance that he will protect them against all forms of attack but challenged them not to be compromised in their work.

The Treasury slashed Judiciary’s budget by Sh3 billion last on September, citing revenue shortfalls and the need to raise funds for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda. It squeezed Sh131 billion out of different Government agencies.The Judiciary had requested Sh31.2 billion, but Parliament allocated it Sh14.5 billion, which Treasury has now slashed to Sh11.5 billion.

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