Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Bishop Joseph Kagunda narrowly missed a six-month jail sentence after a Nyeri court found him guilty of contempt.
The Mt Kenya West bishop, however, spent more than 10 minutes in custody after Employment and Labour Relations judge Nzioki Makau found him guilty of disobeying court orders.
The orders were issued three years ago by Justice Byram Ongaya, directing Kagunda to reinstate three clerics to their pastoral duties after he sacked them for allegedly engaging in homosexuality.
The church-registered trustee was also ordered to pay John Njogu Gachau, James Maina Maigua and Paul Mwangi Warui Sh6.8 million.
The court found that it was unconstitutional for the church to suspend the three priests from pastoral work without evidence.
Judge Ongaya also ordered the church to pay the priests all their accrued salaries from August 2015, when they were sacked.
Archdeacon Gachau was awarded Sh2,437,780, the Reverend Maigua Sh2,224,996 and the Rev Warui Sh2,219,814.
However, the church applied to have execution of the judgment stayed, pending determination of an appeal seeking to overturn the court orders.
The church argued that the appeal would be rendered nugatory unless the order of stay was granted.
Justices Phillip Waki, Roselyne Nambuye and Patrick Kiage dismissed the application by Bishop Kagunda, which sought an order of staying execution of the judgment of the Employment Court in Nyeri.
The Employment and Labour Relations court in Nairobi had on July 10 issued a warrant of arrest for Kagunda.
Quick action by his lawyer Wachira Nderitu, however, saved the bishop from spending the night in remand.
Immediately Makau ordered court bailiff to whisk Kagunda away, Mr Nderitu made an application to have the judge stay execution of orders.
He said his client was unaware of the existence of the said orders and asked the court to consider the bishop's age.
“I plead with you to stay the execution of your earlier orders, bearing in mind my client is almost 60 years,” said Nderitu.
He said once the court stayed its orders, he would immediately ensure compliance to reinstate the clergy.
It was upon this plea that Justice Makau rescinded his earlier orders and directed that the bishop be brought back to court.
The court ordered that the priests be reinstated by 10am today, failure to which the stay orders would be lifted. Kagunda promised to comply.
The judge also issued a warrant of arrest against ACK managing director for failing to effect a court order requiring the church to pay the Sh6.8 million.
When the matter came up, Kagunda said he was unaware of the orders by the court requiring him to reinstate the priest.