Omwanza Ombati, a Nairobi City Lawyer, has written a protest letter to Chief Justice Martha Koome, informing the Head of the Judiciary that the decision to transfer judges without proper mechanism has affected operations at the Milimani High Courts.
In a letter to the Chief Justice on Wednesday, September 20, Ombati noted that the exercise has grounded services at the High Court Constitutional and Human Rights Division where Lady Justice Hedwig Ong'udi and Lady Justice Mugure Thande were serving before their transfer.
According to Omwanza, the two Judges were replaced by one Judge, that is, Chacha Mwiti who is yet to report to his new station.
"On Monday, September 18, 2023, we were notified, via the Division's Causelist, that Justices Hedwig I. Ong'udi and Mugure Thande would no longer be sitting in the Division as they were 'on transfer'.
"All matters pending before the two departing judges were listed for Mention before the Deputy Registrar. As for judgements & rulings scheduled for delivery, they were taken out indefinitely and reserved for delivery on Notice," the letter read in parts.
The City Lawyer claimed that Milimani Constitutional and Human Rights Division is currently understaffed, as only one Judge, Justice L Mugambi, presiding over all matters.
He noted that Justice Mugambi cannot be expected to single-handedly take up the departing judges' dockets and caseloads.
"The above scenario does not bode well for the realisation of the right of access to justice. It goes without saying that the Division, often being the last bastion of constitutionalism and the rights and freedoms we hold dear, needs to operate at an optimal level," the City Lawyer stated.
He explained that without being optimally staffed, litigants' rights to seek redress from the courts will continue to be eroded and the public confidence in the judiciary will wane.
"I also write to request that at the beginning of each term of the Superior Courts, the Courts' leadership avails to all stakeholders the tentative dates of all Judiciary events, with the same being circulated to advocates via the Law Society of Kenya.
"The reason for this is that it is now routine for scheduled hearings to abort because judges are indisposed on account of 'official engagements'- seminars, colloquiums and workshops, often on little, to no, notice," the letter read in parts.
Omwaza, hence, asked Chief Justice Martha Koome to consider posting an additional judge to the Milimani High Court- Constitutional and Human Rights Division, bringing the full complement to three, or even four judges.
He also asked Koome to ensure that the transfers is completed, with the incoming judges reporting to the Division immediately.
"The outgoing Judges to list, via the Division's daily/weekly Causelist, all matters pending for Judgement and Ruling and give a Schedule on the dates the Judgements/ Rulings will be delivered.
"You rationalize transfers/deployments so that the court operations are not adversely affected. The tentative dates of all Judiciary events be circulated to the membership through the LSK, at the start of each Term of the Superior Courts," the letter read in parts.