, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 22 – Chief Justice Evan Gicheru has directed the Attorney General and the Speaker of the National Assembly to file their response in a case in which a group of activists are demanding that Members of Parliament pay taxes.
The CJ issued the order on Thursday when the case was mentioned before him for purposes of appointing a Bench to hear the matter which has been pending in court since February last year.
Justice Gicheru instructed the respondents to file and serve their replying affidavits within 21 days and directed that the case be heard for two days beginning August 29 by a three-judge bench.
The move by the CJ comes barely two weeks after the activists led by Okiya Omtatah wrote a letter to him demanding a speedy hearing of the case, failure to which they would hold demonstrations.
They had demanded a hearing date before July 25.
The activists, under the Kenyans for Justice and Development filed the case in February 2009 which was certified urgent and referred to Justice Gicheru to appoint a bench.
In the case, Mr Omtatah is challenging the constitutionality of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), saying it was a vehicle to loot funds from the public.
The activists want the High Court to help the public recover funds lost through payment of irregular allowances to MPs.
They are also demanding that legislators be directed to pay taxes.
On Wednesday, the Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende directed Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta to introduce a Bill to amend the National Assembly Remuneration Act, which will pave way for the proposed increments to be effected.
But on Thursday the MPs agreed to suspend that resolution after holding an informal meeting with President Mwai Kibaki where they penned a deal that assured the legislators that their remuneration would remain tax free until 2012 even if the new Constitution passes.
Mr Kenyatta had declined to table the Bills saying he does not have money to pay. Mr Marende said that legislators had a constitutional right to have their remunerations reviewed every five years arguing that the recent move to raise their salaries was nothing out of the ordinary.
The Akiwumi report recommended MPs salaries be raised from Sh850,000 to Sh1.2 million a month.
The Finance Minister said he was not in a position to provide the funds because they were not factored in the 2010/11 budget.
Meanwhile the hearing of an appeal by former director of Java Coffee House John Wagner has been postponed.
Trial judge Mohammed Warsame directed the appellant to take new hearing dates at the registry. He could not hear the matter as he is engaged in an election petition filed against the Kirinyaga Central MP John Ngata Kariuki.
Mr Wagner is contesting a 15-year jail term slapped on him last September after he was jailed for defiling minors. He is arguing that his fundamental rights were violated by the trial magistrate when she allegedly amended the charge while delivering the verdict.
Mr Wagner was convicted after the court found him guilty of indecently assaulting three girls aged between 13 and 15 between June 5 and 7, last year in Lavington.
He was freed in January this year pending the determination of his appeal.