NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 21 – The Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi on Tuesday directed the House legal counsel to appeal a High Court order barring the Finance Committee from handling a petition on the removal of Auditor-General Edward Ouko from office.
In his communication to the House, Muturi refrained from commenting on whether the High Court order should be obeyed or not.
“Having guided the House at length, I wish to state that I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to direct this House what steps to take or not on this matter.”
“I have since instructed our advocates on record to appeal against the court’s decision to injunct the House as this is the avenue available in law to express disagreement with judicial findings and also to give the court an opportunity to hierarchically express itself on the question of separation of powers with finality,” he said.
He disclosed that a notice of appeal was filed in the High Court on March 17 and in the Court of Appeal on March 20.
Speaker Muturi however said the High Court order was unconstitutional because it violates the principle of separation of powers as outlined in the Constitution.
He urged the Judiciary to refrain from interfering with internal procedures of the National Assembly just as the MPs do not purport to question the manner in which courts perform certain matters filed before them under those rules.
“The courts have no mandate and it is indeed unconstitutional for the High Court to disregard the express provisions of Article 107 and Article 124 of the Constitution and substitute themselves for the Speaker of the House and the Standing Orders to discharge the functions of presiding officers of Parliament or act as regulators of the orderly conduct of Parliamentary proceedings,” the Speaker stated.
“An efficient and effective Parliament must have autonomy from the Executive or Legislature. No court order can restrict debate.” Muturi argued. “No person has authority to transact in Parliament except the Speakers of both Houses who can also delegate functions.”
The Speaker further announced that the House contemplates the introduction of necessary legislation to provide for the manner in which the High Court shall exercise its supervisory jurisdiction over quasi-judicial matters pending before the Legislature with respect to the provisions of Article 117 of the Constitution.
He further suspended the probe by the Finance Committee led by Ainamoi MP Benjamin Langat and ordered them to submit a progress report as at March 13 when its operations were halted.
“In respecting the court orders, the Departmental Committee on Finance Planning and Trade continues with its suspension of the investigation of the specific grounds alleged by Mr Emmanuel Mwagonah in his petition to the National Assembly seeking removal of Mr Edward Ouko from office of the Auditor General.”
“However, the Committee is hereby required to submit a Progress Report to the House, within seven (7) days from tomorrow, detailing the matters of the Petition as at the March 13th, 2017 for consideration by the House in accordance with the Standing Orders,” Muturi directed.