Fruit processing company Del Monte has suffered a major blow after the Environment and Land Court dismissed its application seeking to be enjoined in case where two petitioners want Murang’a County government and the National Land Commission (NLC) compelled to advertise for local and international bids after the expiry of the leasehold for land occupied by the firm.
Ephantus Githae and James Mwangi filed a petition arguing that the fruit-processing company should not have its leasehold renewed automatically but it should rather go through competitive bidding where local and international investors should be brought on board so that the successful bidder gets the leasehold.
Del Monte had told the court that it has huge interests and stake in the petition since its right to property is likely to be contravened and that its interests and rights will not be articulated unless it is enjoined in the petition.
The company also wanted to bring to the attention of the court the existence of other suits and sought directions on how the matter would be conducted in light of the other proceedings.
“We have a huge interest and stake in the petition since our right to property is likely to be contravened and our interest and rights in the petition will not be articulated unless we are enjoined in the proceedings to be able to aid the court in determining the petition fairly and conclusively,” the company told the court.
But the two petitioners and the Murang’a County government objected to the application by Del Monte arguing that the company has no business to engage in the process of the lease renewal as that is the express mandate of NLC and the county government.
While making the ruling last Thursday, Justice Grace Kemei said that Del Monte company did not demonstrate its interests or stake in the petition, adding that stake or interest should not be confused with ownership of land and that the applicant’s interest is that of a private nature and, therefore, the company was not pursuing a public interest claim.
The judge noted that the company did not demonstrate to the courts how its legitimate interests over the leaseholds in question would be affected if it is not enjoined in the petition.
“Further, the applicant has not demonstrated the prejudice it stands to suffer if the application is disallowed. …the application is without merit [and] it is dismissed with costs to the applicant,” the judge ruled.
This means that the petition will continue without the involvement of the company.