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High Court Overturns SRC Directive, Orders Immediate Release of Sh10m Car Allowance for Judges


In a landmark decision, the High Court has overturned the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s (SRC) directive that scrapped the Sh10 million car allowance for judges every four years. This ruling mandates the Treasury to release the withheld funds immediately, restoring a benefit that has been a point of contention between the judiciary and the SRC.

Justice John Mativo, presiding over the case, declared the SRC’s directive as unconstitutional, arguing that it infringed upon the financial independence of the judiciary. “The SRC overstepped its mandate by interfering with the financial entitlements of judges, which are constitutionally protected to ensure their independence and integrity,” he stated in his ruling.

The court’s decision highlighted the importance of maintaining the judiciary’s autonomy, emphasizing that any changes to judges’ remuneration must follow due process and respect constitutional provisions. “Judicial officers must be assured of their financial security to safeguard their independence. Any attempt to diminish these entitlements without proper justification and procedure undermines the very foundation of our legal system,” Justice Mativo added.

The SRC, in its directive, had argued that the car allowance was an unnecessary expense that burdened the public coffers. However, the judges contended that the allowance was essential for their duties, enabling them to fulfill their roles effectively. The court sided with the judges, noting that the SRC failed to provide a compelling justification for its decision to withdraw the allowance.

“Judges are required to travel extensively for their official duties, and the car allowance is a reasonable provision to ensure they can perform their responsibilities without undue hardship,” the ruling stated. The High Court further underscored that any changes to such allowances must involve consultation and adequate justification, which the SRC had not adequately undertaken.

The Treasury has been ordered to comply with the ruling and release the funds immediately. This decision is seen as a significant victory for the judiciary, reinforcing its financial independence and setting a precedent for how remuneration issues should be handled. Legal experts believe this ruling could have broader implications for other public servants whose allowances and benefits are regulated by the SRC.

In response to the ruling, the judiciary expressed satisfaction and relief. “This decision is a reaffirmation of the constitutional principles that safeguard the independence of the judiciary. It ensures that judges can continue to perform their duties without financial insecurity,” said Chief Justice Martha Koome.

As the Treasury prepares to disburse the funds, attention now turns to how the SRC will respond to the court’s decision. The ruling serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between ensuring fiscal prudence and respecting the constitutional mandates that protect the judiciary’s independence.

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