Paul Muhoho @PeopleDailyKe
The Supreme Court is reluctant to handle a matter in which governors and senators wants it issue an advisory opinion on the division of revenue row.
Chief Justice David Maraga yesterday revelled that top court judges held a meeting and expressed their reservations in the issue given that it is a legislative.
“This matter should be resolved by the National Assembly and the Senate. Why are we being dragged into this issue?” Maraga asked during the mention of the petition filed by the Council of Governors.
His remarks came even as Senate passed its version of the Division of Revenue Bill 2019, in what could deepen the standoff.
He, however, said should parties in the matter fail reach an agreement through dialogue, the top court will start hearing the petition on July 31.
The Council of Governors (CoG) last week moved to the Supreme Court in a bid to unlock the stalemate that has threatened to paralyse operations at the counties.
They are protesting the move by the National Assembly and Treasury to cap counties allocation at Sh310 billion in the Division of Revenue bill. They want Sh335 billion of the equitable shareable revenue.
Lawyers Fred Ngatia, Issa Mansour and Peter Wanyama, for the CoG, said the council was open for negotiations, “but no signal was forthcoming.”
“Operations at the county level are at a standstill. Time has come for this court to give guidance to the nation. This matter cannot be resolved through discussions. You are throwing us into the deep sea and there are sharks,” said Ngatia.
Lawyers SM Mwendwa and Wangechi Thanji, representing National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka, respectively, said the two institutions had separately published the contentious revenue bills and called for public participation a week before enactment.
They admitted the mediation process had failed to bear fruit.
Lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo, for the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) urged the court to proceed with hearing the petition and adjudicate on “22 serious constitutional issues” raised therein.
“This crisis can only be resolved by the Third Arm of the government,” he said.
Muturi has formally lodged a preliminary objection seeking the dismissal of the advisory opinion reference on the basis that the Supreme Court lacks the power to entertain the petition.
“The petitioners challenge the manner in which Parliament has been conducting the budget process pertaining to the mode of division of revenue between the National and county governments,” the objection reads.