South Coast-based Leisure Lodges Ltd has described as erroneous submissions by Attorney-General Paul Kihara Kariuki that its parcels of land are government-owned.
Through lawyer James Ochieng, Leisure Lodges told a three-judge bench sitting in Mombasa that the land is private, and it has never been owned by the government.
At the centre of the dispute is more than 76 hectares (187 acres) in parcels of land worth millions of shillings in Diani, Kwale County.
“This was private land transmitted from owner to owner," said Mr Ochieng.
Mr Ochieng further submitted that there are decrees that the parcels of land belong to Leisure Lodges and that no application has been made to set them aside.
Leisure Lodges Ltd says it is the registered owner of the 10 parcels of land and is entitled to its absolute possession.
It has sued individuals, companies, business entities and the government (over 700 respondents) who have interest in the land.
Mr Ochieng further told the court that Leisure Lodges had given out 93 acres to settle squatters.
In his cross petition, the AG has accused Leisure Lodges Ltd of misleading the government to allocate it land.
The AG argued that Leisure Lodges disposed of government land illegally, which was meant for settlement of squatters. He said the revocation of a parcel of land allocated to Leisure Lodges Ltd was justifiable.
The AG has asked the court to dismiss the petition the company filed eight years ago and declare that it does not own the land.
However, Mr Ochieng dismissed the AG’s cross petition, saying it is misconceived and intended to deprive it of its land.
Leisure Lodges Ltd wants a declaration that the sub-divisions and reparcellation of its land and allocation of plots to third parties is contrary to the law and in breach of its rights.
It says these moves amount to acquisition of its land without compensation.
The company argues that the State cannot acquire property to distribute to political supporters and others for personal gain.
It also argues that unplanned development on its land has reduced the value of its commercially viable properties including those on the beach which were next or adjacent to its parcels of land.
Through lawyer Njoroge Mwangi, Kwale County government, which is among the respondents, argued that there is admission that 60 per cent of the land is occupied by third parties.
Mr Mwangi argued that Leisure Lodges Ltd has not been able to demonstrate to court that it owns the land to the exclusion of other respondents. Lawyer Japheth Asige, representing some of the respondents, said the petition by Leisure Lodges Ltd does not disclose violations of rights of freedoms it alleges and urged the court to dismiss its petition.
The three-judge bench comprising Justices Eric Ogola, Mugure Thande and Dora Chepkwony will deliver its judgment on March 28.