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Supreme Court rules it has jurisdiction on counties’ revenue suit

Supreme Court, Nairobi. /CFM-FILE.

NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 8 – The Supreme Court has ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear a case filed by counties on the controversy surrounding the Division of Revenue.

While delivering the ruling, Justice Njoki Ndung’u dismissed the National Assembly’s preliminary objection on the court’s jurisdiction to determine the case.

“In the High Court petition 252 of 2016 there are 10  pending issues for determination, and we have listed them, in the High Court petition number 277 of 219 there are 4 issues for determination and in the High Court petition number 284 of 2019 there are 12 issues to determine,” Ndung’u said, and added that “Indeed, the issues raised are of great public interest and therefore the court will exercise its jurisdiction on this matter. Therefore, the preliminary objection by the National Assembly is hereby disallowed.”

The judge however, stated that although the court will hear the case, it will not give its opinion all the issues raised by counties. A direction on specific issues the court will deal with will be given on October 16.

“We note the question of Division of Revenue impasse was resolved and therefore, although it is in the Constitution for this court to exercise its jurisdiction where need be, we will only give an advisory opinion on truly deserving issues. Meaning, we will not deal with all the issues and the applicant will be directed on the issues that will focus on by October 16,” she said.

The National Assembly had filed an objection at the Supreme Court, saying it had no jurisdiction to hear a case by the Council of Governors in July after the National Assembly and the Senate disagreed on Division of Revenue.

The impasse has since been resolved after the Senate accepted a Sh316.5 billion allocation for counties proposed in the revised 2019 Division of Revenue Bill, despite expressing reservations on the enactment of the Appropriation Act (2019) without its concurrence.

On September 5, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and his Minority counterpart James Orengo, however, vowed to sustain their petition challenging the Appropriation Act (2019).

“As you are aware that the Division of Revenue forms the basis upon which the two levels of government prepare legal instruments for public expenditure. The National Assembly proceeded to publish, consider and pass an Appropriation Act setting up expenditure for the National Government. Therefore, as the counties are headed to a halt sooner rather than later, the national government has continued to operate unobstructed,” Orengo said.

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Counties were seeking an allocation of Sh335 billion for the 2019/20 Financial Year but the national government through the National Assembly insisted on Sh316.5 billion, in what culminated to the suit.

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