Billionaire loses his battle for a parcel of land to Judiciary

Chief Justice David Maraga (right) and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho (third right) inspect construction of the Sh485 million Justice Towers . [File, Standard]
The Judiciary has finally won the battle for a multi-million-shilling property claimed by a Mombasa billionaire.

Super Nova Properties Ltd associated with businessman Ashok Doshi lost the case at the Court of Appeal, where it was challenging a High Court decision that had declared illegal a 99-year lease.

The land, on which the Judiciary is constructing Sh445 million Justice Tower, was among those listed as grabbed in the Ndungu Land Commission’s report.

“One would have expected that the public outcry associated with public land grabbing, that resulted in various commissions such as the “Ndungu Land Commission” and “Truth and Justice Commission” and other such initiatives to be a lasting solution in regard to public land acquired for public use. Nay, as in the dispute, the subject matter of this appeal, the court was called to adjudicate on a parcel of land that is occupied by the Mombasa Law Courts, now renamed “Justice Towers” which was allocated to private entities,” read the judgment by Judges Alnashir Visram, Wanjiru Karanja and Martha Koome 

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The 1.477-hectare plot was reverted back to the Judiciary after the High Court dismissed a Judicial Review application by Super Nova Ltd and Nova Holdings Ltd on June 22, 2016.

In the application at the High Court, the two companies sought an order to quash the decision by the District Land Registrar Mombasa and the Commissioner of Lands revoking the companies’ title for the plot situated next to the Mombasa Law Courts.

They also sought an order directing the two to reinstate their names in the proprietorship of the suit premises and another order barring the transfer of the properties to any other person.

Without authority

They named the Judiciary, Judicial Service Commission and the defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission as respondents.

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The company told the court that the government through the Commissioner of Land leased the land on December 17, 1996 for a period of 99 years at an annual rent of Sh90,000.

The property was allotted to Kimeo Stores, and Angeline Cherono Cheboi, jointly with Leah Sewe but they later transferred their interests to the two companies.

The Commissioner of Lands revoked the title of allotment, a move that saw the two companies move to court on grounds that he acted without authority.

In his judgment, then High Court Judge Anyara Emukule declared that the allocation of the Judiciary land to the company was an illegality hence its claim to it was null and void.

When the matter came for hearing, the Registrar of Titles and Commissioner of Lands denied the validity of the said instruments of the title.

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“The inquiry here has established that the alienation of the suit property was contrary to the provisions of the Government Land Act,” the judge ruled.

Aggrieved by the decision, the company moved to Court of Appeal to try and repossess the property.

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Super Nova Properties LtdAshok DoshiCourt of AppealNdungu Land CommissionNLCland disputes