Stop interfering with our role, MPs tell Judiciary

The National Assembly has told the Judiciary to stop interfering with its mandate, signalling renewed hostility between the two organs of government.

This follows a recent court order that stripped lawmakers off some parliamentary immunity.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, who was urged by MPs Junet Mohamed (Suna East), Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), John Mbadi (Suna South), Millie Odhiambo (Suna North), Maoka Maore (Igembe North) and others to assert the authority of the House, said the Judiciary must be guided by the doctrine of separation of powers.

“We are not in favour of any attempts to derail the Legislature,” Mr Muturi said.

The Kenyan parliament just like those in other democracies, transacts its business through committees.

The committees are then required to provide fodder for the House in form of reports, without which nothing can be transacted.

On May 22, Justice John Mativo nullified sections 3, 7 and 11 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act that guarantees immunity for MPs in terms of parliamentary proceedings or decisions. This includes allowing an MP to be served with court orders even while in the precincts of Parliament as well as stopping matters under consideration by Parliament or its committees.

Although an appeal has been filed, Mr Muturi said the ruling affirms that parliamentary privileges are always under attack from the Judiciary.

“This House will not take anything that purports to injunct it or its committees,” the Speaker told the lawmakers.

“Is it right that one judge decides that what we are doing is hogwash? Or should the matter be taken to the highest court? Is this what we want? Food for thought!”

In appealing for the Speaker’s direction, Mr Mohamed said Mr Muturi risks going down history as the one who presided over the collapse of the independence of Parliament.

“The Judiciary is intruding into the affairs of this House. When a judge sits and makes a ruling that makes Parliament unable to work, this is misuse of judicial powers. We cannot sit and watch as the Judiciary becomes rogue,” Mr Mohamed said.

“This House must stand up and defend the Constitution.”

Justice Mativo ruled that in enacting the law, the legislators went overboard as they are not the final word in the creation of the statutes. He added that courts exist to provide oversight against bad laws.

Mr Mbadi who is the National Assembly minority leader, said Parliament must be allowed to exercise its constitutional mandate without interference from other state organs.

The bill was introduced to the House by Eldas MP Adan Keynan in 2014 and passed on October 22, 2015.

It was assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta on July 21, 2017 and took effect a month later.

The judge, however, said lawmakers are immune to whatever comments they make on the floor of the House or that of committees, bills or motions.

He also said that the MPs cannot be held liable for written or oral questions or votes cast on the floor.

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