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Senators take turf war with National Assembly to court

Thursday July 18 2019

IBRAHIM ORUKO
By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka has Thursday led senators in a march to the High Court to file a petition challenging more than 20 laws enacted without their input as the turf war with the National Assembly escalates.

In their pleadings, the senators want the court to annul at least 26 Acts of Parliament that they say do not comply with the due process.

In the procession lead by the Speaker, and Leaders of Majority and Minority Kipchumba Murkomen and James Orengo, respectively, the lawmakers walked from the Parliament buildings to the Milimani Law Courts, about 20 minutes away.

The senators accuse the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi of ignoring the legislation that guides the passing of a bill and arrogating unto himself the unilateral power of determining Bills that concern counties.

They argue that since the inauguration of the 12th Parliament in 2013, Mr Muturi has rejected pleas from the Senate for a meeting to determine all the bills that have eventually been enacted.

CONTENTION

The petition exposes the dysfunctional nature of Parliament and rekindles the memories of 2013 Supreme Court advisory when the Senate sought guidance over the legislative process of enacting the now contentious Division of Revenue Bill which divides national revenue between the national and county governments.

At that time, the Speaker Muturi declared the Bill a money law and trashed the Senate’s role in its enactment. He then forwarded the Bill to the President and it was assented to.

Senate faulted his decision insisting that the Division of Revenue Bill is an ordinary law which could originate from either House.

The bone of contention between the two chambers, then and now, arise from the interpretation of Article 110 (3) of the Constitution.

The Article states that before either House considers a Bill, the Speakers of the National Assembly and Senate shall jointly resolve any question as to nature of a Bill before its introduction.

ADVISORY

In moving to court, the senators are buoyed by the Supreme Court advisory that observed that the business of considering and passing of any Bill is not to be embarked upon and concluded before a meeting of the two Speakers.

In the advisory, the Supreme Court faulted Mr Muturi for abandoning all engagement or consultation with the Speaker of the Senate, and trashing the Senate role in the enactment of the Division of revenue Bill, 2013.

While the Court noted that the requirement for a joint resolution of the question on the nature of the Bill is a mandatory one, it argued that Mr Muturi acted contrary to the Constitution and its fundamental principles regarding the harmonious motion of state institutions.

“Neither Speaker may, to the exclusion of the other, determine the nature of a Bill. That would inevitably result in usurpations of jurisdiction, to the prejudice of the constitutional principle of the harmonious interplay of State institutions,” the Supreme Court observed.