Chief Justice Martha Koome gives guidelines on payment of fines, cash bail
Chief Justice Martha Koome has issued new directives that could drastically reduce corruption and delay in the handling of criminal offences across the country.
Among the key directives from the CJ is that all offenders will now be required to process fines and cash bail payments in open courts after pleading to charges.
In addition, all pleas (new charge sheet against suspects) will now be required to be registered by 9:00 am to enable offenders arraigned on time and raise fines and cash bail terms imposed on them by the court before 4 p.m.
A statement issued yesterday by the Judiciary stated that Koome made the move in a bid to expedite the payment of fines and cash bail.
"These new guidelines address the concerns of court users and harness technology to streamline the process. One notable change is that the processing of payments will now occur in open court, increasing transparency," the statement reads.
The CJ issued the new guidelines saying the same is in line with the Judiciary's adoption of technology using the Case Management System, which enables electronic payment of court fees, fines, and deposits.
According to Koome, the new payment method will not only generate online invoices and receipts but also simplify the entire payment process.
The head of the Judiciary has also directed that every plea-taking court will have two Court Assistants to expedite the process.
"The first assistant will support the magistrate with various court duties, while the second assistant will handle the processing of fine and cash bail payments. This includes generating invoices, providing copies to the accused, and facilitating payments through the online portal," Koome directed.
The CJ stated that accused persons who cannot make payments in open court will receive an invoice and be given a reasonable period to settle their fines or cash bail.
She added that committal warrants will be prepared for those offender who fail to pay by 4:00 p.m. on the day of their plea.
Koome also revealed that efforts have also been made to ensure financial controls are maintained, with each court station having an accountant responsible for daily revenue collection reconciliation.
"The Judiciary’s Directorate of ICT is committed to automating these processes within 30 days, enhancing efficiency and accessibility. These guidelines represent a significant step towards a more streamlined and technology-driven judicial system, ensuring timely and transparent handling of fines and cash bail, ultimately benefiting court users and the administration of justice," the CJ said.
The new rules by the Chief Justice come after lawyers and court users have in the recent past raised alarm over the increased cases of corruption touching on accused persons.
Litigants had urged the CJ to intervene in the slow pace of processing of bail, the court starting time, and the delayed registration of pleas among other issues they faced in the criminal justice system.
In July this year, Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Eric Theuri asked his members to compile a list of hardships they encountered to enable him to take them up with Chief Justice Koome.
“LSK has received numerous concerns from our members regarding the services provided by the Judiciary ranging from delays in delivery of judgment, delays in court starting time, corruption and incompetence among others,” Theuri’s alert to the society’s members states in part.