Factories managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) have challenged a court order that stopped the confirmation of newly elected directors in an appeal that seeks to challenge the jurisdiction of the High Court.
According to the agency, the persons to whom the orders were directed were not party to the suit, a move KTDA claims is against the law.
The High Court issued the order after three petitioners challenged the just-concluded elections, claiming they were carried out under alien rules.
Through lawyer Benson Milimo, the tea agency has appealed for the order to be set side, arguing that it has affected over 6,000 shareholders who exercised their rights in electing the directors to represent them in their respective factories, yet they have been condemned unheard.
“The court granted orders against parties who had not been enjoined in the suit, including the 54 tea factories and the more than 100 newly elected directors, which by law is erroneous and forms the basis of the appeal.
“Under the law, there is no point that a court has jurisdiction to grant an order against a party who is not participating in the proceedings. For the court to grant an order against any person, that person must have first been cited as a party in the proceedings, and secondly, that he must be granted an opportunity to be heard, both of which lacked in these proceedings,” Mr Milimo said.
The advocate further argued that when the orders were issued, the matter was coming up for mention and that the issuance of the substantive orders went against the judicial authority of the court.
He claimed that the activities at the factories risk being paralysed due to lack of quorum at board meetings as a result of the failure to confirm the newly appointed directors in the upcoming AGMs.
“Whereas the courts serve judicial authority, nevertheless the authority by the courts is limited and subject to both the Constitution and the law. Before granting orders it must consider the weight of that order,” the lawyer said.
In a petition that will be mentioned on December 2, the three farmers – Joseph Mwangi Mbote, Peterson Maina Gathua and Samson Mwangi Wairugu – filed the suit against KTDA Holdings Limited and KTDA Management Services Limited KTDA Ms, accusing the company secretary of the agency of unilaterally and without authority publishing an election procedure manual for KTDA-managed tea factories’ director nominees.
The farmers also accuse the agency of breaching the practices and conducting zonal elections in October, a move they claim shielded some directors from the risk of losing directorship.
They added that the irregular and premature zonal elections saw the elections of Erastus Gakuya (Zone 2), Peter Kanyago (Zone 4), Paul Ringera (Zone 7) and Mr Phillip Ngetich (Zone 8).