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Lawmakers vow to fight court ruling on Parliament immunity

The altercation between legislators and the Judiciary appears to be far from over, after Tharaka MP, George Gitonga termed Tuesday’s ruling by Justice John Mativo regarding the immunity of Parliament as “regrettable.”
He faulted Justice Mativo’s ruling which stripped MPs of immunity of being served with court orders while within Parliament premises, saying the judgment was unconstitutional.
Gitonga said it was wrong for the court to have passed such a judgment against a provision, which is enshrined in the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, as this would be viewed as an attempt to undermine the independence of Parliament.
The legislator was speaking Thursday at the Machakos Youth center on the sidelines of a Public hearing workshop on two proposed Bills, spearheaded by the Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.
The committee is collecting views on the proposed Constitution of Kenya(Amendment)Bill 2018 on two-thirds gender principle and the Constitution of Kenya(Amendment )Bill 2018 on the change of General Election date from August to December.
“It is regrettable that there was such a decision and we will have to look at it and Parliament is considering an appeal against the decision because that is what the law requires. But as far as Parliament is concerned, it enjoys absolute immunity when it is doing its work, just as the courts enjoy immunity when they are sitting,” he said.
On Tuesday, Justice Mativo ruled that Section 7 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, which provides protection on proceedings or decisions of Parliament or its committees, was against the Constitution.
Similarly, Mativo quashed Section 11 of the Act, which shielded MPs, employees of Parliament and journalists covering the House from being served with court orders, whenever they are within its boundaries.
And on Sunday National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said Parliament would defy any court orders intended to hamper its operations, a move likely to strain further relationship between the two arms of government.
The acrimony between the judiciary and MPs follows the ruling of the case which was filed by former Law Society of Kenya CEO, Apollo Mboya, who argued that the two sections were meant to lock out the public and the courts from questioning parliamentary proceedings or decisions.
By Samuel Maina

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