Court Orders Judges' KSh 10M Car Allowance Reinstate to Add to Long List of Allowances

An image of Lyn Mengich
Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) Chairperson Lyn Mengich in a press briefing on May 15th 2019.
Business Daily

In a landmark judgment for judges, issued on Friday, May 24, the High Court directed the immediate release of car allowances owed to judges since 2021.

The decision, handed down by a three-judge bench, overturned the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) directive that had halted the provision of Ksh10 million car allowances to judges every four years, ordering the Treasury to release the funds without delay.

Judges Chacha Mwita, Lawrence Mugambi, and Patricia Nyaundi declared the decision by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to discontinue the taxable car allowance as illegal and unconstitutional.

"In the circumstances, we have no difficulty in finding, which we hereby do, that the taxable car allowance is a benefit to judges. We must also state that the allowance is a benefit attaching to the office of a judge to be enjoyed by the holder of that office on appointment and not to an individual judge, as argued by the Attorney-General," the court stated.

Following the court's decision, SRC Chairperson Lynn Mengich announced that the commission would appeal the ruling, arguing that the judges were conflicted in handling the matter. Mengich also noted that the commission had previously sought mediation, but the application was dismissed by the judges.

"As a commission, we are committed to upholding the constitution, and we shall therefore be appealing against the judgment," Mengich said. The judges maintained that the car allowance was a benefit conferred under the former constitution, which enabled judges to purchase vehicles for private use.

CJ koome
A picture of Chief Justice Martha Koome at her office April 9.

The ruling stems from a constitutional petition filed by Peter Gachuiri Mwangi, who sought to reinstate the taxable car allowances for High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court judges.

These allowances, which had been a fixture of judges' compensation since 2011, were abruptly scrapped by the SRC in 2021. Gachuiri's petition argued for the reinstatement of these benefits, contending that they are essential for judges to carry out their duties effectively.

Supporting Gachuiri's petition, the Kenya Judges Welfare Association emphasised the importance of the car grant as a necessary benefit aiding judges in both their professional responsibilities and personal requirements.

The SRC, however, maintained its position, arguing that judges already receive round-the-clock official chauffeured transport, fully serviced by the state. Granting them additional car allowances, the SRC asserted, would constitute double remuneration, an assertion contested by proponents of judicial independence.

Perks for judges

In a detailed breakdown of judicial remuneration, it is revealed that the salaries of High Court judges have undergone significant revisions over the years. 

According to a letter dated August 18, 2017, issued by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), High Court judges were earning a minimum of Ksh657,426 and a maximum of Ksh907,279 as gross monthly income. However, this was later revised in the SRC's 2022 guidelines, raising the maximum salary to Ksh1,000,974.

Further adjustments were proposed by the SRC in September 2023, aiming to increase high court judges' salaries to a minimum of Ksh736,444 and a maximum of Ksh1,027,826 for the 2023/2024 financial year. 

This proposed increment would escalate in the subsequent financial year, projecting a minimum of Ksh811,461 and a maximum of Ksh1,054,677.

Apart from their basic salaries, high court judges benefit from various allowances and perks outlined in the SRC's 2023 review. 

These benefits include official transport and a comprehensive medical scheme covering the judge, spouse, and up to four dependent children under the age of twenty-five. 

Under the medical scheme, inpatients are allocated Ksh10 million coverage, while outpatient services enjoy Ksh300,000 coverage. Maternity, dental, and optical services are also covered, with respective allowances of Ksh150,000, Ksh75,000, and Ksh75,000.

Additionally, aJUigh Court judges are entitled to several allowances and insurance benefits. They receive a Ksh25,000 airtime allowance, a Ksh50,000 annual leave allowance, and are covered by group life insurance and group personal accident insurance, with a value equivalent to three times their annual basic remuneration package.

Furthermore, judges with additional responsibilities beyond their standard duties are eligible for a special judicial duty allowance of Ksh30,000. High court judges are also facilitated with a Ksh8 million car loan and a Ksh35 million mortgage, with durations of 5 years and 20 years, respectively.


SRC chairperson Lynn Mengich listens to the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) meeting at the Kenya School of Government, Nairobi on January 26, 2023.
SRC chairperson Lynn Mengich listens to the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) meeting at the Kenya School of Government, Nairobi on January 26, 2023.
SRC Kenya


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