The Anglican Church will still have to reinstate three priests sacked over alleged homosexuality and pay them Sh6.8 million after the Court of Appeal dismissed its application to stop the execution of the orders by a lower court.
Justice Philip Waki, Justice Roselyne Nambuye and Justice Patrick Kiage threw out an application by the Registered Trustees of the Anglican Church of Kenya that sought an order to halt the enforcement of a judgment by the Employment Court in Nyeri.
Judge Byram Ongaya of the Employment Court had, on September 2016, directed the church to reinstate Archdeacon John Njogu Gachau, Rev James Maina Maigua and Rev Paul Mwangi Warui so that they could perform their pastoral duties.
The court found that it was unlawful for the church to suspend the three priests from pastoral work without evidence that they were homosexuals.
Justice Ongaya also ordered the church to pay the priests all their accrued salaries from August 2015, when they were sacked.
Archdeacon Gachau was awarded Sh2,437,780, Rev Maigua Sh2,224,996 and Rev Warui Sh2,219,814.
However, the church applied to have the execution of the judgment suspended pending the determination of an appeal seeking to overturn the court orders.
The church argued that the appeal would be rendered nugatory unless the order to suspend the enforcement of the judgment was granted.
The church, through lawyer Syphurine Nyongesa Mayende, said the amount awarded to the three priests — Sh2 million each — following the termination of their employment was excessive and without legal basis.
Mr Mayende argued that the judges erred by failing to consider the circumstances under which the sackings occurred and the practicability of the reinstatement.
He told the court that the priests held sensitive positions in the church and the accusations of homosexuality levelled against them, which led to the termination of their employment, were read before the congregations where they served as priests.
He argued that it would be undesirable, disruptive and impractical for the priests to hold their former offices while the appeal was pending.
“Church ministers ought to have faith, credit and trust and these have been lost,” he argued.
However, the priests, through lawyers Moraa Onsare and David Onsare, dismissed the application.
Mr Onsare said the Anglican Church has many dioceses across the country and there was nothing that would prevent it from complying with the order of reinstatement.
In their ruling, the Court of Appeal judges said the argument that the priests’ resumption of their pastoral duties had become untenable was falsified.