PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has assured Judiciary of the required funds to enable it fast track dispensation of justice.
He used the opportunity at the Law Day, at which he was guest of honour in Dar es Salaam, to note the need for collective effort among all stakeholders to achieve fast disposal of cases.
“Without collective responsibility by all stakeholders, including lawyers and judges, it would be impossible to achieve faster dispensation of justice,” the president said He referred to instances in which some defence lawyers unnecessarily delayed cases ‘’while there are also anecdotal examples of how judges delay writing judgments.
Following the concern from Chief Justice Mohamed Othman Chande that there were delays in issuance of requested funds from the Treasury, Mr Kikwete assured them that he would personally follow up the matter. “We will do whatever we can to ensure your systems work to fast track delivery of justice,” he promised.
The chief justice had earlier raised concern on the delay in getting recurrent and development budget funds in the last four months, pointing out that the anomaly was ‘’a significant player in the delay of justice delivery’’.
Mr Othman paid tribute to the president for assisting the Judiciary secure an area to erect a building in the upscale side of Dar es Salaam city next to the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (OCRI).
He said they had already secured 10/- and would embark on construction work this financial year. The CJ hailed the budgetary increase for the judiciary in the 2013/2014, which is 50bn/-, more than the previous year’s allocation, giving the institution an opportunity to minimise its financial woes.
Specific activities to be undertaken using the additional amount include expediting hearing of cases. There are at present about 16,000 cases and judiciary officials were categorizing them in hearing merit and priority order.
Mr Othman observed that many systems all over the world have an inherent delay, pointing out; however, that what was unacceptable ‘’is unnecessary and artificial delay in the justice system’’.
He said that by December last year, Tanzania had built capacity to finish cases by 102 per cent and in the same year, courts heard more case than the previous one. In a move that looks like ‘Big Results Now,’ the Chief Justice said they have started a new programme where each judge in the business division court hears 100 cases in one year.
To fast track delivery of justice, Mr Othman suggested more systems such as a plea bargain, which is an agreement in a criminal case between the prosecutor and defendant whereby the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a particular charge in return for some concession from the prosecutor.
He said some cases delayed in court because they would principally have been settled outside to prevent pilling up of cases. “Sometimes you find that government institutions have a dispute between themselves; but instead of settling it out of court, they opt to sue each other.
I suggest that such institutions try out-of-court settlements to avoid case pile-ups” he advised. The Deputy Attorney General, Mr George Masaju, urged lawyers not to delay cases as this impacted on delivery of justice.
The President of the Tanganyika Law Society, Mr Francis Stolla, pointed out that various factors such as technicalities given by judges, resource restraint in the Judiciary and delays in investigations contributed to delays in dispensation of justice.
One of the advocates in attendance, Mr Paul Kibuuka, said fast tracking cases gives more confidence in the ability of courts to dispense justice He noted that digitizing proceedings at the Commercial Court Division had fast tracked hearing of court cases from years to just an average of 8 months.
Meanwhile, President Jakaya Kikwete has inspected and expressed satisfaction with work on the restructuring of the National Assembly debating chamber to accommodate members of the constitutional assembly later this month.
The president who was on his way to Mbeya for a two-day official visit, briefly stopped in Dodoma to inspect the ongoing renovations and expressed his satisfaction at the speed of the work.
Mr Kikwete inspected the constitutional assembly and other important service areas, including the assembly canteen that will be used by members of the constitutional assembly — and was pleased with the renovations and work speed.
The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs), Mr William Lukuvi, assured the president that the work, which includes fixing chairs and microphones that will be using sophisticated communication system, will be complete by February 10.
President Kikwete, however noted that it would be better to provide a one week allowance after February 10 to ensure everything is set before the constitutional assembly officially begins.