A case in which three multi-nationals estates are seeking to save their land in Kakuzi, Murang’a County, will be heard by three judges from December 6, 2019.
The Malindi Environment and Land Court Judge, James Olola has ruled that applications filed in Nairobi, Makueni and Malindi on the matter would be consolidated and jointly heard by the three judges to avoid conflicting court decisions on the same matter.
The multinationals – Kakuzi Plantation Limited, Del Monte Kenya Limited and Mabroukie Tea and Coffee Estates – are seeking to have Section 15 (3) (b) of the National Land Commission (NLC) Act, which gives the commission powers to investigate historical injustices, to be declared unconstitutional.
They claim that implementing the section as petitioned by KDDA would lead to the infringement of the companies’ constitutional rights
Kakuzi limited had filed an application in the Malindi court seeking to have all the cases on the matter consolidated and jointly heard “so that all the pertinent critical aspects of the said section can be addressed holistically.”
“The consolidation of the constitutional petitions will facilitate the just determination of all issues concerning the constitutionality of Section 15 of the NLC Act in a holistic manner and prevent conflicting court decisions on the same issues,” Kakuzi argued through Kaplan and Straton Advocates.
This, the company said, would in turn save on judicial time and prevent piece-meal litigation on the constitutionality of the section.
The three companies moved the three separate courts after a group of about 4,600 Kakuzi residents, through the Kakuzi Divisional Development Association, petitioned the NLC to invoke the section and investigate how the three companies acquired the land with a view to reverting it back to the locals.
This is after the association petitioned the National Lands Commission in 2018 to invoke the section 15 (3) (b) (i) to initiate investigations, on its own initiative or on a complaint, into present or historical land injustices, and recommend appropriate redress
The residents claim that the three companies are operating within their (residents) ancestral land from which they were displaced by the colonial government. They want the NLC to admit their case as historical land injustices and order that the properties revert to them.
The firms however, claim they have invested heavily to support the economy of Murang’a County and the country as a whole, which they say will be destabilized if the group’s petition to the NLC is granted.
Justice Olola directed the parties to file their responses before Friday December 29 pending the joint hearing a week later.
By Emmanuel Masha