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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Kenya: High Court nullifies 23 laws passed without the Senate’s approval

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Twenty-four laws passed by the National Assembly without the input of the Senate have been declared unconstitutional by the High Court.

In a ruling delivered by a three-judge bench, the High Court said the Senate’s role in legislation is not optional and that it was illegal for the National Assembly to ‘ignore’ the Senate.

While affirming role and powers of the Senate in legislation, the bench, comprising Justices Jairus Ngaah, Anthony Ndung’u and Teresiah Matheka, said the passage of the 23 laws was contrary to the Constitution, a number of the laws related to counties and the devolution process.

The Senate moved to court last year to contest the National Assembly’s decision to conduct law-making business with the exclusion of senators.

One of the laws affected by the judgement is The National (Amendment) Health Laws, which made changes to laws touching on health. 

Though health is a devolved function, the National Assembly adopted the Bill and passed it without involving the Senate. The law gave Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) exclusive right to supply medicine and medical equipment to the county governments.

Another law affected by the judgement is the contentious Computer Cyber Crime Act which tamed bloggers and internet users. The Act recommends a fine of Sh20 million or a prison term of 10 years, or both, for harassing a person through the internet by making posts that are indecent or grossly offensive.

It also recommends the above penalties for posting information that may cause another person’s apprehension or fear of violence, damage or loss of his/her property.

According to the Act, publishing false and misleading information, fake news is a crime and if found guilty the offender is liable to a fine of Sh5 million or two years imprisonment.

The other contentious laws are the Public Trustee Amendment Act, Building Surveyors Act, Tax Laws Act, The Kenya Coast Guard Service Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act, Equalisation Fund Appropriation Act, The Finance Act No 10 of 2018 and Capital Markets Act.

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