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Senate battle on revenue Bill now moves to court

By WAHOME THUKU | Jun 14th 2013 | 2 min read


The stand-off between the National Assembly and the Senate over the recent passage of the Bill on revenue allocation is now before the Supreme Court.

The Senate and its Speaker Ekwee Ethuro referred the matter to the Supreme Court yesterday morning, seeking an opinion on whether the passing of the Division of Revenue Bill by the National Assembly and subsequent assenting by President Uhuru Kenyatta was constitutional.

Though the Senate quickly explained the case was not contentious or intended to antagonise anyone, the action brings an unprecedented scenario where the three arms of government (Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) have been brought together by a constitutional conflict.

The Senators want the court to decide whether the passing of the Bill without considering their input violated the Constitution.

The reference was filed through senior lawyers Kioko Kilukumi and Pherozee Nowrojee coinciding with the presentation of the 2013/2014 budget before the combined Houses.

The court action has been prompted by a decision of the National Assembly to ignore the Senate’s amendments to the Bill and sending it to President Uhuru who assented to it on Tuesday.

Advisory opinion

In his letter to the Senate, Speaker Justin Muturi stated by Standing Orders of the National Assembly and those of the Senate, it appeared both Houses had in their own rules already determined that the Bill is firstly concerns county government and secondly is an ordinary Bill. Mr Ethuro then wrote back concurring.

On May 14, the National Assembly clerk forwarded a copy of the Bill passed by the House, to the Clerk of the Senate, requiring it to concur. The Bill was read for the first time in the Senate on May 15 and went to the Finance Committee.

It was passed by the Senate with some amendments on May 23 and forwarded back to Parliament the following day. The Senate asked the National Assembly to concur on the amendments.

“In its siting on June 6 the National Assembly purported in a procedure that is unknown by and in conflict with the Constitution and the laws of the Republic, to ignore or reject the amendments,” said Speaker Ethuro in his affidavit.  The Bill was then referred to the President without further reference to the Senate.

Ethuro says he wrote to the President on June 7, bringing to his attention the unconstitutionality of the action of the National Assembly and requested him to refer the Bill back to the National Assembly. The House wants the court to also determine whether the National Assembly could constitutionally refer it to the President for assent without taking into consideration the amendments.

Under the Constitution, an advisory opinion of the Supreme Court can only be sought by the national government, State organ or county government and only on matters concerning county governments.


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