The Court of Appeal declined to suspend the Teachers Service Commission’s (TSC) termination letter to the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary general.
Judges Martha Koome, Hannah Okwengu and Jamilla Mohammed said there was no need to suspend the TSC letter as Sossion can either be reinstated or compensated whenever the substantive case is determined.
“The applicant has therefore demonstrated that the appeal is arguable but has failed to demonstrate that the appeal would be rendered nugatory if the interim orders sought are denied,” judges ruled.
The Knut secretary general complained that the Nancy Macharia-led commission issued him with the termination letter despite knowing that he had challenged the same.
He claimed that TSC’s decision will directly undermine the operations and independence of Knut. But the commission argued that it had a valid reason to remove him from the teachers’ register.
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“The reason for termination was valid as the applicant admitted being a Member of Parliament without resigning from public service; and that due process of law encompassing procedural fairness was strictly adhered to prior to the termination of the applicant as the applicant (Sossion) was accorded a fair opportunity to be heard prior to the termination,” the commission replied.
In the High Court, Sossion’s contention in the case was that his nomination by the opposition party was to represent workers in Parliament, hence he ought to be retained in the teachers’ register.
While dismissing the Knut secretary general’s case, Justice Nelson Abuodha declared that TSC was right to show him the door as his interest in Parliament was that of the party and not employees as he argued.
Abuodha held that his nomination put him in partisan political activity, which goes against his employer’s regulations.
“The respondent (TSC) has ably demonstrated that the petitioner’s association and acceptance of nomination as a Member of Parliament on ODM party ticket went against its tenets as an institution in charge of regulation and discipline of those in teaching service,” ruled Abuodha.
He added: “Teachers code of conduct and ethics (2015) require teachers to maintain political neutrality at all times and shall not act in a manner that may compromise or be perceived to compromise his or her neutrality.”
The commission wrote to Sossion and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Chairman and Emuhaya MP Omboko Milemba last year informing them that they were no longer teachers.
“The commission has decided to terminate your service as a teacher with effect from January 15, 2018,” Macharia wrote to Sossion.
“It has been noted that you were nominated as a MP yet the commission has not received your resignation or retirement letter.”
Regulation 187 (1) and (2) of the Code of Regulations for Teachers dictates that teachers who seek elective positions and hold trade union posts must resign or retire from service. In fact, the deregistration renders them non-eligible for leadership at the teachers’ unions.
Aggrieved, Sossion moved to the Appeals Court, arguing that the termination was illegal and had no effect in law.
The Knut secretary general was appointed by TSC as a diploma teacher on permanent and pensionable basis on September 1, 1993.
He was released by the respondent to the Knut upon being elected as the Bomet Branch Secretary to serve on a full time basis from June 1, 2001. Sossion was nominated by ODM as a member of the National Assembly.