The Labour court has given Egerton University Vice-Chancellor Rose Awuor Mwonya a clean bill of health following a long battle over claims of mismanaging the institution.
The court dismissed the university council's letter that sent Prof Mwonya on compulsory leave as “unlawful and irregular as the rules of natural justice were not complied with”.
In her judgement, Justice Monica Mbaru also said the council erred in sending Prof Mwonya on leave as the decision was taken without reference to the appointing authority.
“The council acted outside its legal mandate. Even where there are serious allegations with regard to the conduct of the respondent, and which require the council to investigate an office holder such as the VC, reference to the appointing authority is imperative."
Justice Mbaru further observed that the office of the VC carries with it statutory functions for the entire institution.
She also pointed out that there was no provision for an acting position unless with the approval of an appointing authority and the Education Cabinet Secretary.
“The office of the VC is responsible for academic and administrative of the university, direction and overall administration, as [the VC] is the chief executive officer. The holder is part of the council by virtue of being an ex-official member,” the judge explained.
She said a VC should thus not be treated as a common criminal when allegations on conduct arise.
Prof Mwonya, the first woman VC of the 80-year-old premier institution of higher education in agriculture, assured students and other stakeholders that she would continue adhering to governance structures.
“With the court judgement, I am happy and will now concentrate on my primary purpose of preparing students for their roles as the future leaders of Kenya," she said.
The VC had been mbroiled in a leadership wrangle with the university council, which took her to court over corruption and mismanagement of the university.
She said the wrangles were triggered by an unclear transition plan and lack of goodwill.
“The transition was transformed into a war of attrition with the university caught in the middle. In the process, there has been a concerted effort to smear the innocent as corrupt,” she said.