Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has been fined Kshs 100,000 for defying court orders issued at Kapenguria high court. Munya along Geoffrey Njang’ombe who are state officers were fined by lady justice Ruth N Sitati for contempt of court.
Delivering her ruling, justice Sitati said the orders issued in Kapenguria high court dated October 17th 2019 had ordered stopping of the government from interfering with the Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) board after the CS disbanded the board and inaugurated a caretaker board of directors to run the affairs and business of the board.
On 7th October 2019 Tom Wanambisi an ex parte applicant filed an application under order 53 rules 1, 2 and 4 of the civil procedure rules and section 8 (2), 9(1) (b) of the law reform act seeking inter alia leave to commence judicial review proceedings against the CS and commissioner for cooperative development.
On 18th October 2019 Mr Wanambisi filed a substantive application by way of notice seeking for orders that the CS and the commissioner for cooperative development quash their decision of 30th September 2019 of disbanding the KFA board of directors and inaugurating or maintaining in office the caretaker team of 9 members to run the business of the board.
In a ruling dated 14th November 2019, the respondents were cited for non compliance of the court orders dated 17th October 2019 and further ordered inter alia that the stay orders issued on 17th October 2019 be applied with equal force to all actions of the respondent including a gazette notice number 10384 by the 2nd respondent dated 24th October 2019 and published on 1st November 2019 that removed the board of directors of KFA.
Before Mr Wanambisi filed the case at Kapenguria high court two civil rights activists George Narok and Paul Maina had filed a suit at Nakuru high court against CS Munya saying the appointment of the caretaker board was violation of the law governing private enterprise.
Narok and Maina claimed KFA is a private entity and the government has no mandate in its operation and thus the decision to remove the board of directors and appointing a caretaker board is unreasonable and unlawful.
Delivering her ruling at Kapenguria, justice Ruth Sitati said the high court has the powers to punish the disobedience of its orders under section 36(1)(b) and (3) which provides a person who willfully and without lawful excuse disobeys an order or directions of the court in the course of the hearing of proceedings will be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five days or be fined not more than Kshs 100,000.
She noted that the duo disobeyed court orders dated 17th October 2019 and 14th November 2019 and therefore they were in contempt of court.
“The fact that the respondents are public and state officers means that they must have a higher sense of duty in ensuring compliance with court orders that the ordinary citizens of this country and they should be at the forefront in respecting the rule of law and the constitution as a whole,” she said.