A Nakuru based lawyer, Peter Okiro, has filed a suit to have judges excluded from paying higher taxes under the Finance Act 2023 to save the bench from having their remuneration adversely affected.
Okiro’s petition vests on what he calls the ‘sanctity of remuneration and benefits bestowed upon judges’. He asserts that the financial considerations of judges play an instrumental role in upholding the Judiciary’s impartiality and resilience against undue influence. Central to this contention is the belief that judges’ financial security is paramount for fostering an environment that empowers them to execute their mandates independently.
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Represented by lawyer Kipkoech Ng’etich, Okiro argues that his petition stands on the constitutional foundation that safeguards judges’ financial welfare, and says any attempt to alter these provisions in a manner disadvantageous to judges would be both unconstitutional and detrimental to the judiciary’s integrity.
Lawyer Kipkoech Ng’etich (left) and his petitioner Peter Okiro.
The petitioner says that preserving the current financial framework for judges is essential to fostering a conducive environment for them to execute their duties independently, uninfluenced by external pressures. This stance, while acknowledging the uncertainties of the future, envisions an unswayed judiciary steadfast in its commitment to upholding justice.
Specifically, the petition challenges the constitutionality of Sections 26 and 84 within the Finance Act 2023. “These sections infringe upon judges’ remuneration and benefits, contravening the fundamental principles enshrined in the Constitution,” Ng’etich argues, reitrating that the overarching safeguard outlined in Article 160(4) of the Constitution of Kenya, which expressly safeguards judges’ remuneration and benefits against unfavourable alterations.
The National Assembly, Speaker of the National Assembly, Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Attorney General, Salaries and Remuneration Commission, and the Commissioner General of the Kenya Revenue Authority have all been named as respondents. Additionally, the Judicial Service Commission has been designated as an interested party.