, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 23 – A bishop on Thursday moved to the High Court in a bid to suspend a recent gazette notice requiring all faith ministers to get clearance certificates from the Registrar of Marriages prior to solemnising church marriages.
Bishop Mark Kariuki of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya argues that if the gazette notice dated September 5 is effected, it will make it impossible for thousands of Kenyans to legalise their marriages.
In the recent directive, the Registrar of Marriages requires church ministers to get new 50-page marriage certificate books at a cost of Sh25,000 instead of the 100-page books at Sh20,000.
The man of the cloth further accuses the respondents of being unreasonable for not giving ministers of faith a reasonable timeline to enable them comply with the notice.
The Attorney-General has warned that their licenses will be cancelled if the clergy fails to comply with the notice by November 1.
According to Bishop Kariuki, the gazette notice is discriminatory as it is not a requirement for any other faith or form of marriage.
“That the mandatory requirements for persons professing the Christian faith to get clearance certificates from the registrar of marriages prior to the celebrations of a church marriage is discriminatory as it is not a requirement for any other faith or form of marriage,” he stated.
The aggrieved bishop has named the Attorney General and the Registrar of Marriages as respondents claiming the gazette notice is contrary to Article 47 of the Constitution.
Article 47(1) states that, “Every person has the right to administrative action that is expeditious, efficient lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.”
Bishop Kariuki further complains that the Registrar of Marriages has not reimbursed him and other ministers of faith for books surrendered.
There has also been no explanation or justification for the increase in charges and reduction in pages in the marriage certificate books.
“The respondents have increased the fees required for one to be married making the cost of marriage out of reach to thousands of believers who profess faith of the petitioner and other minister of faith,” he pointed out.