The Environment and Lands Court in Nairobi has quashed an order by National Land Commission to have all 999-year leases to multinationals converted to 99 years.
Judge Oscar Amugo Angote quashed various recommendations by the land agency issued in 2019 in a judgment issued last week.
The decision by the court was in respect to various Judicial Review Applications filed in court two years ago by multinationals -- who are members of the Kenya Tea Growers Association.
The recommendation by the state agency is linked to alleged land injustices in Kericho, Bomet and Muranga.
Claims by the Kericho and Bomet counties were filed on behalf of the Kipsigis and Talai clans, Kipsigis clans, and the Borowo and Kipsigis Clans Self Help Group against the colonial government.
The court also issued an order prohibiting the Director of Surveys under the Ministry of Land and the County Governments of Kericho and Bomet from implementing the recommendations published in the Kenya Gazette Notice of March 1, 2019, and dated February 18, 2019, in respect of the claims by the two counties on behalf of the Kipsigis and Talai clans, Kipsigis clans and the Borowo and Kipsigis Clans Self Help Group.
“An order of Prohibition be and is hereby issued, prohibiting the Director of Surveys under the Ministry of Land and the County Governments of Kericho and Bomet from implementing the recommendations published in the Kenya Gazette Notice of March 1, 2019 and dated February 18, 2019 in respect of the claims by the County Governments of Kericho and Bomet on behalf of the Kipsigis and Talai clans, Kipsigis clans and the Borowo and Kipsigis Clans Self Help Group vs The Colonial Government and the Government of Kenya under Ref: NLC/HL1/044/2017, NLC/HL1/546/2018 and NLC/HL1/173/2017,” read the judgment in part.
James Finlays Kenya Limited, Sotik Tea Company Limited, Sotik Highlands Tea Company Limited, Kaimosi Tea, and Nandi Tea were among the companies among others were applicants in Judicial Review No 3 of 2020.
They had named the County Governments of Bomet, and Kericho, NLC, Ministry of Lands among others as respondents in the case.
Apollo Kiarie, the Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA) in a sworn affidavit told the court that NLC vide Gazette Notice Vol CXX1-No 27 in the Kenya Gazette of March 1 2019 published recommendations dated February 18, 2019, arising from historical land injustice complaints in a complaint by Talai-Nandi.
The COE noted that NLC made its determination on the complaint on March 28, 2019, without notifying them of the said claims. KTGA members he said were not invited to participate in any sittings and or sessions between the County Governments of Kericho and Bomet and NLC even though it was apparent that such recommendations would adversely affect their interests and that of other tea estates in the two counties.
NLC is allowing the claims allowed directed that a resurvey be done on the lands being held by the tea estates to determine if there is any surplus land or residue to be held in trust for the community by the County Government for public purposes and the County Government and the multi-nationals sign an MoU to provide public utilities to the community.
Other recommendations included the renewal of leases to the lands be withheld until an agreement is reached with the respective Kericho and Bomet counties, and enhancement of land rates.
Mr Kiarie noted that the decision by NLC offends the principles of natural justice since they were not notified of the claims and were not accorded and opportunity to be heard. NLCs actions he said were unreasonable and made in bad faith.
In Judicial Review No 4 of 2020, Kakuzi PLC named NLC, the Ministry of Lands and the County Government of Muranga as respondents.
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David Gitaka in his affidavit said several parties on various dates in 2018 filed historical land injustice claims against Kakuzi and the same were admitted.
The cases were NLC/HLI/530/2018(Gachagi Makuyu IDP), NLC/HLI/069/2017(Gaichanjiru Self-Help), NLC/HLI/006/2017(Kakuzi Divisions Development Association), NLC/HLI/049/2017 (Kihinganda Self Help Group), NLC/HL1/170/2018(Ndula Resource Centre-Kanyangi Squatters), NLC/HLI/176/2018(Kitoto Community IDPs) and 999-year leases be converted to the constitutional requirement of 99 years.
Kakuzi said it carries out intense agricultural activities on the suit properties.