A petitioner who sued to challenge a section of the electoral law requiring public servants eyeing political seats to resign from office has scored his first victory after a judge ruled that the matter will proceed to a full hearing.
Kericho Employment Labour Relations Court Judge Njagi Marete dismissed arguments by lawyers representing the Public Service Commission (PSC), Attorney-General Githu Muigai and State House Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.
“I find that this court has jurisdiction over the matter by virtue of the provisions of Articles 22 and 23, which empower this court to deal with matters attacking fundamental rights. I hereby dismiss the application,” said Justice Marete.
The hearing of the case will start on February 17.
QUESTION OF JURISDICTION
The judge directed the petitioner’s lawyer Simiyu Murambi to file his written submissions and serve all the respondents within eight days.
He further ordered the respondents to file written responses in court within four days of receiving the submissions.
Senior State Counsels Charles Mutinda and Janet Langat had argued that the labour court lacked jurisdiction to hear the petition filed by Eric Cheruiyot.
But Mr Murambi dismissed the argument, saying the law grants every Kenyan the right to file a petition if they felt that any part of the Constitution contravened their rights or those of others.
Mr Cheruiyot, a resident of Kipkelion constituency, filed the petition on January 16, claiming that the law requiring some public servants to resign from their jobs six months to the General Election was discriminatory.
He said the law gives undue advantage to serving governors, senators, members of Parliament and members of county assemblies by allowing them to stay in office and draw salaries while demanding that the other public servants resign from their jobs.
In his petition, Mr Cheruiyot accused the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, PSC, Attorney-General and Head of Public Service of contravening the Constitution
The petitioner wants the court to order that public servants can only leave office to participate in elections after the dissolution of Parliament and county assemblies.