, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 23 – The High Court on Thursday suspended a gazette notice that would have seen an increase in the fees charged for church marriage certificates, after televangelist Bishop Mark Kariuki filed an objection.
In the notice, the Registrar of Marriages wanted preachers to seek fresh permits to conduct weddings and also raised the fees for marriage certificates.
The clergy were required to pay Sh500 to the government per certificate, more than double the previous fee of Sh200 per certificate.
In the recent directive, the Registrar of Marriages required 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.
Bishop Mark Kariuki representing the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya argued that if the gazette notice dated September 5 was effected, it will make it impossible for thousands of Kenyans to celebrate and legalise their marriages.
The man of the cloth had also accused the respondents of being unreasonable for not giving ministers of faith a reasonable timeline to enable them comply with the notice.
The Attorney-General had 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 was 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.