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Judges appointed from Magistrates and Private practice set to earn the same salary

In a landmark judgment delivered on December 18, 2019 Justice George Odunga has declared that all newly appointed judges will be subjected to a standard salary. 

“Categorization of judges by SRC and JSC of equal status whether they were appointed from outside or within the judiciary is unconstitutional,” he declared.

The judge further announced that moving forward all judges shall be remunerated equally and on the same scale. He ordered the backdating of salaries for all underpaid judges such that they would compensated for all salaries not yet received such that it would be similar and uniform as that of their counterparts.

The judge also declared that a letter by SRC dated June 10, 2013, was discriminatory to the extent that it subjected judges appointed in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to a lesser starting salary than the starting salary of those appointed prior to the said period.

It is also alleged that recent appointed judges were subjected to discrimination by the Salaries and Renumeration Commission by being given a lower salary than serving magistrates who had been appointed to serve in the same capacity.

This judgement was made pursuant to a law suit filed by a civilian. In his pleadings, Sollo Nzuki alleged that judges had been discriminated against by the SRC and JSC. Counsel representing him, Cecil Miller, stated that the some of the underpaid judges were formerly lawyers enagaged in private practice. 

The counsel told Justice Odunga that the judges appointed from private practice to join the bench were paid a higher scale of Ksh 532,000 and a non-practicing allowance of Ksh. 13,500 whereas those elevated from magistrates to judges were paid a higher scale of Ksh 632,000 with a non practicing allowance of Ksh 13,500.

It is from this point that Mr. Miller urged Hon Justice George Odunga to declare the categorization of judges unconstitutional.

SRC and JSC did not file any pleading to contest the facts presented as falsified.

In August 18, 2017, SRC communicated to the secretary of JSC, Ms Anne Amadi, setting out the salaries of judges and magistrates. 

The SRC capped the basic salary of the Chief Justice at Sh1,327,888 with an entry package of KSh. 990,000 while the DCJ basic salary was capped at KSh. 1,233,536 with the entry package set at KSh. 821,833. The rest of supreme court judges salary was set at KSh. 792,000 with a ceiling of Sh1,218,535.

For Court of Appeal judges the entry salary is Sh 689,224 while their salary is capped at Sh1,122,759.

A high court judge is expected to earn KSh. 657,426 and its salary capped at Sh 907,279.

For a chief magistrate the entry package is KSh. 445,500 and capped at KSh 650,253. A senior principal magistrate takes home an entry package of Sh334,125 which rises to Sh480,000. A principal magistrate gets an entry package of Sh225,000 and is capped to Sh360,000. A senior resident magistrate has an entry salary of Sh180,000, which increases to Sh300,000.

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