Sarrai Group Limited directors who have been in the center of the court tussle over the running of Mumias Sugar company have breathed a sigh of relief after the High Court in Milimani today declined to make a ruling on their contempt of court case facing them whereby they were to show cause why they should not be sentenced to imprisonment for contempt of court.
Justice Alfred Mabeya who was sitting in for Lady Justice Dorah Chepkwony who is on transfer, told the court that he could not make any ruling on the matter before him because he had rescued himself from that case late last year hence making any ruling could contravene his previous position.
The judge clarified that he had to sit in to hear the matter because it was set for today at a time when Lady Justice Chepkwony who set the date was going on transfer and the court as the head of division had to give direction on the matter.
“The reason why the matter was referred to me was because Honourable Chepkwony J was on transfer and this court as the head of division had to give direction and allocate cases,” said Justice Mabeya in his ruling.
He added that as observed by advocate Abbas Ismail that he (Justice Mabeya) had rescued himself from the case late last year, he could therefore not make any judicial pronouncements or merits or otherwise on the litigation hearing.
“That being the case I will not make any pronouncements on the issues that have been raised before me lest I appear to make a determination hereof,” said Justice Mabeya.
He therefore directed that the contemnors to appear before Lady Justice Josphine Mong’are who is also handling other matters pertaining the Mumias case on 15th June 2023 to show cause why they should not be jailed for contempt of court.
“In view of the foregoing, I direct that this matter and specifically on the issue of showing cause as directed by Honourable Chepkwony J on the 28th of April 2023 to be handled by Mong’are J who is handling the other matters pending in this file and in this regard I direct that they appear before Honourable Mong’are J on 15th June 2023 to show cause why they should not be jailed for contempt of court,” ordered Justice Mabeya.
Earlier on, before the ruling, former Attorney General Githu Muigai had asked the court to give his clients 90 days to clear their pending appeal at the Court of Appeal before the contempt of court case can be determined.
Professor Muigai further noted that his clients who include Sarbjit Singh Rai, Rakesh Kumar Bverts and Stephen Chege Kirumba who were present in court had complied with all the requirements including payments for the fines imposed on them for contempt of court hence the issue of them not purging the contempt of court could not arise.
Muigai’s plea to the court received sharp opposition from Ms. Jacline Kimeto of Kimeto and associates who is the applicant of the contempt of court case and Edmond Wesonga of Wekesa and Simiyu advocates who are creditors in the case.
Ms. Kimeto argued that the application by senior counsel Muigai was a new one in the matter and none of the parties involved had been served and therefore the court should proceed with the ruling on the contempt of court matter and not any other matter.
On his side, Wesonga of Wekesa and Simiyu advocates noted that the contemnors had failed to purge the contempt of court within 15 days after the ruling hence they had not acted in good faith and thus the court should go ahead to give the sentence to the three directors.