The Anglican Church of Kenya has suffered a blow after a court refused to stop implementation of a directive requiring it to pay Sh6.8 million to three priests accused of homosexuality.
Justice Byram Ongaya of the Employment and Labour Court in Nyeri also dismissed an application by the church to have the September 9, 2016 judgment reviewed.
Justice Ongaya further declined to have Mt Kenya West Diocese Bishop Joseph Kagunda and the Church Commissioners for Kenya enjoined in the case as respondents.
Through its lawyer Wachira Nderitu, the church argued that the bishop was denied a right of reply before the decree of awarding the damages was pronounced in respect to the three clergymen.
Pastors Paul Warui, John Gachau and James Maigua were awarded Sh6.8 million for defamation and reinstated to their pastoral duties after being suspended by the church standing committee over the homosexuality allegations.
The three said their reputation and integrity were damaged, eroding their dignity among the congregation and the public.
Mr Nderitu told the court that if any claim was to be executed and complied with, it could only be by the sitting diocese bishop and CCK, “not the registered trustees of the Anglican Church of Kenya, as indicated by the priests”.
The court allowed amendments to the suit to read that the judgment was against CCK and not the church trustees.
The judge said the orders to reinstate and compensate the priests were not directed to the bishop in his individual capacity “since he is not the priests’ employer”.
The court added that Bishop Kagunda was aware of the proceedings in the main suit and the case was concluded without seeking enjoinment until long after the judgment was entered in favour of the three priests.
The court said that allowing a review of the judgment would be an abuse of the legal process since the church had already moved to the Court of Appeal to challenge it.
“No satisfactory reasons have been given to set aside the judgment. The application cannot be entertained,” Justice Ongaya said.
The priests, through their lawyers Moraa Onsare and David Onsare, had asked the court to disallow the application, terming it frivolous.
“It is an embarrassment to the legal process and the application aims at denying the claimants fruits of their litigation,” Mr Moraa Onsare said.
He added that the priests were embarrassed and maligned after being suspended from their duties.
The lawyer said the compensation and reinstatement orders did not have any adverse effects on Bishop Kagunda.