Koome appoints bench to hear suit against Ruto’s Affordable Housing

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 15 May, 2024 20:32 | 2 mins read
Chief Justice Martha Koome. PHOTO/@MarthaKoome/X
Chief Justice Martha Koome. PHOTO/@MarthaKoome/X

Chief Justice Martha Koome has appointed a three-judge bench to hear the determination of the petition challenging President William Ruto's Affordable Housing Programme.

In a notice seen by K24 Digital Koome has appointed Justices Olga Sewe, John Chigiti, and Josephine Mong'are to determine the case brought by five petitioners led by Nakuru doctor Magare Gikenyi and Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah, challenging the deduction of 1.5 per cent from workers.

"Following the orders issued by High Court Judge Chacha Mwita on May 3, 2024, I direct that this matter be heard and determined by Justices Sewe, Chigiti, and Mong'are," Chief Justice Koome ordered.

This new development in the matter comes hours before the scheduled pre-trial conference on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

Koome's directive follows a request by the petitioners who had sought to have the matter referred to her by Justice Mwita for the empanelment of an expanded bench to determine the cases challenging the Act.

On May 3, Judge Mwita concurred with the petitioners that their cases raise substantial questions of law that need to be determined by a bench.

"On the notice of motion and petition dated March 19, 2024, upon reading the pleadings, I am satisfied that the petition raises fundamental questions and requires urgent hearing. I direct the pleadings be served immediately and submissions highlighted on May 16, 2024," Judge Mwita stated.

Currently, the High Court has declined a plea by Magare and his co-petitioners to suspend the implementation of the Act until the case is heard.

In the case, the five petitioners have sued the Cabinet Secretaries of Treasury Njuguna Ndung'u and Lands Alice Wahome, the Attorney General, Justin Muturi, Kenya Revenue Authority, and 18 other respondents.

The petitioners moved to court challenging the implementation of the housing levy, arguing it's unconstitutional.

They contend that the act should be declared illegal since it's discriminatory, as it has barred corporations from owning a house through the Affordable Housing programme.

"Corporations pay taxes and contribute to the economy, and as such, barring players from the sector from owning a house is discriminatory," the petitioners stated in their court papers.

The recent lawsuit by the five petitioners was lodged after President Ruto, on March 19, 2024, assented to the Affordable Housing Bill, after it was passed by Parliament.