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The official launch of eight judicial services in Huduma Centres by Chief Justice Martha Koome together with Public Service Cabinet Secretary (CS) Moses Kuria will this morning go on uninterrupted after the High Court on Friday declined to halt the process.

This is after Justice Lawrence Mugambi of Milimani High Court declined a plea by former Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Vice-President Carolyne Kamende Daudi to temporarily suspend the launch, and directed the suit be heard on March 18.

While allowing the Chief Justice and CS to proceed with the process of opening the new delivery and performance management of court cases in the country, Justice Mugambi said the lawsuit filed by Kamende does not require grant of conservatory orders sought before hearing all the parties in the case.

The lawyer sought to slam brakes to the Chief Justice and Executive move to offer judicial services at Huduma Centres, saying LSK and its members, being the major stakeholders in the justice sector, were not involved or consulted in the unconstitutional administrative decision.

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“Judiciary seeks to roll out the programme on January 29, 2024, without releasing sufficient information and directions on how the programme will work, which lack of information poses a real danger to the constitutional right of Kenyans to access justice,” Kamende states.

She says the Koome-led institution decision to domicile Judiciary desks in the Ministry of Public Service poses serious risks as persons masquerading as advocates are eagerly awaiting the programme rollout to take advantage of the unclarity in its functionality to unlawfully circumvent advocates and illegally offer services of advocates to unsuspecting members of the public.

“The petitioner, hundreds of members of LSK, as well as thousands of members of the public, are likely to be irreparably harmed by the intended rollout of the Judiciary desks in Huduma Centres,” Kamende argues in court papers.

According to the lawyer, the Judiciary has made an administrative decision to collaborate with the Executive in the performance of its exclusive function of administration of justice, in a manner that undermines the independence of the Judiciary and the hallowed doctrine of separation of powers.

On top of this, Kamende further argues that the said decision contravenes or threatens Article 10 of the Constitution, as well as Section 31 of the Advocate’s Act, Cap 16, that obliges all State organs, State, and public officers to conduct public participation when making and implementing public policy decisions.

Eight services

In a bid to have the process scheduled to commence today, as per the notices and memos, stopped by the High Court, she argues that if the programme is launched it “will irreparably injure the administration of justice as any court document filed will stand void and may have to be filled afresh at a later date, to the total detriment of the litigant.”

“Judiciary and the Executive will suffer no detriment if the rushed and ill-thought decision is temporarily stopped pending the hearing and determination of this petition, and to allow more time for consultations and acquisition of more information on the programme,” she contended.

Huduma Centre last week announced that some eight services would be accessed in their centres in various regions.

They include filing a new civil case, filing documents in an existing case and requesting for and issuance of summons.

Other services to be offered at the centres are request and issuance of mentioned dates, general case inquiries, E- filing support, payment of fines and deposits and virtual court support.

“From January 29, 2024, you can access the following services in six Huduma Centres. They include GPO Nairobi, City Square, Makadara, Kibra, Eastleigh and Thika,” the notice.

Last week, LSK President Eric Theuri stated that the initiative should be halted to allow for stakeholders’ consultation.

“Such initiatives should not be introduced without adequate prior consultation. Chances that the initiative can be abused by masqueraders and increase avenues for unethical practices abound,” he said.

Despite acknowledging that such initiatives are helpful in cascading services to the public and enabling ease of access, LSK Vice-President Faith Odhiambo noted that they lack stakeholder input and consultation on the same.

She termed the lack of consultation as wanting and unacceptable.

“The Judiciary must ice this process forthwith until all stakeholders, including advocates, have been adequately involved,” Odhiambo said.

—PD

 

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