Bar owners strike two wins against new rules

The High Court in Chuka has given the county 90 days to regularise its legislation on alcohol and drug control and formalise its liquor licensing and control board.

Failure to act in 90 days will render the legislation and the board illegal.

Justice Robert Limo gave the deadline in a ruling on a petition filed by bar owners challenging the legality of the legislation and composition of the board.

In the petition, Thachuma Self-help Group wanted the Tharaka Nithi County Alcoholic Drinks Control Act stayed, arguing that it was yet to be published in the Kenya Gazette.

The group also wanted operations of the county liquor licensing and control board halted on the grounds that it was not properly constituted. The group pointed out that the board had no representatives of people living with disabilities and that one of its members was a licensed bar owner in the county.

Justice Limo, however, ruled that the self-help group had no capacity to sue on its own.

“The petitioner in this case fails to explain whether he represents others (and) describe the involvement of the respondents in violating their rights as claimed in their petition, and has also not clearly defined its locus in this case,” said Judge Limo.

The judge ruled that the county had failed to publish the law in the Kenya Gazette as stipulated by the Constitution under Section 199(1).

The county government had argued that it published the legislation on alcohol and drug control in the County Gazette number 6626.

But Justice Limo ruled that the Constitution specifically provides for publication of legislation in the Kenya Gazette.

“Section 25(2) of the County Government Act is unconstitutional to the extent that it states that county legislation can come into force without necessarily being published in the Kenya Gazette yet the only Gazette contemplated by the Constitution is the Kenya Gazette,” said Justice Limo.

The legislation and the board will be operational until the 90 days elapse.

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High Court in ChukaTharaka NithiAlcoholic Drinks Control Actliquor licensing