Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka has hailed the recent ruling by the High Court nullifying 24 laws which were passed in the National Assembly for failing to meet the constitutional threshold.
In his address to the lawmakers on Tuesday, Lusaka described the court verdict as a landmark victory for constitution and rule of law in the country. He said the ruling reaffirmed the need to uphold the role of the Senate in handling affairs of devolution.
“This is a landmark ruling that not only reaffirms constitutionalism and the rule of law in Kenya, but also the role of the Senate in devolution. The judgment has far-reaching implications on the legislative business of the Senate,” he said in a statement.
He revealed a decision by the Senate Business Committee to halt tabling of any bill that fails to merit the requirements of Article 110 (3), which provided ground on which the court nullified the laws.
“In the meantime, no Bill Page 11 of 11 which does not meet the requirements of Article 110 (3) of the Constitution will be scheduled in the Order Paper at any stage before that exercise is completed and directions are given,” he revealed.
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Article 110 of the Constitution spells out bills that concern counties. These are bills that involve recruitment of county staff, county functions and fund allocations. The High Court judges Jairus Ngaah, Anthony Ndungu and Teresia Matheka on October 30 declared that the National Assembly had no monopoly of power to legislate such laws without heeding to the principle of concurrence enshrined in the law.
“It is mandatory for National Assembly Speaker to seek the concurrence of the Senate Speaker on Bills concerning counties. We find that the contested laws were illegally enacted without the concurrence of the two Houses and declare them unconstitutional, null and void,” ruled the judges.
The constitution states in Article 110 (3) that speakers of both houses need to consult when handling laws pertaining to county affairs, a process which the National Assembly failed to consider.
“Before either House considers a Bill, the Speakers of the National Assembly and Senate shall jointly resolve any question as to whether it is a Bill concerning counties and, if it is, whether it is a special or an ordinary Bill,” the Constitution states.
It further reveals in Article 110 (4) and (5): “When any Bill concerning county government has been passed by one House of Parliament, the Speaker of that House shall refer it to the Speaker of the other House.
If both Houses pass the Bill in the same form, the Speaker of the House in which the Bill originated shall, within seven days, refer the Bill to the President for assent.”
Meanwhile, Speaker Lusaka has urged his legal team to jog for the possibility of countering an appeal by the National Assembly on the nullification of the laws.
He said, “Special thanks and gratitude go to the Senators who led our legal team, led by Sen. Okong’o Mogeni, Senior Counsel, Sen. James Orengo and Sen. Mutula Kilonzo Jnr for prosecuting the case pro bono thereby saving us the use of public resources.
We are also aware that the National Assembly is contemplating appealing the High Court decision and we have asked our lawyers to be vigilant and deal with the matter, which we are confident that they will.”