High Court quashes Joho’s illegal taxation

by Wakili Liam
Justice Dorah Chepkwony

Traders, especially bar owners and entertainment spot businesspersons in Mombasa County have a reason to smile.

This is after the High Court struck off a law that the county has been using to impose double taxation on businesses.

Justice Dorah Chepkwony on Friday ruled that the Mombasa County Finance Act 2019 has been operating in complete violation of the Constitution.

The court found that the county did not gazette the Act after its enactment for it to come into effect.

 “The Mombasa County Finance Act 2019 be and is hereby removed and quashed,” ruled the judge.

Justice Chepkwony said where the Constitution expressly states that county legislation comes into effect after gazettement, parties are bound by it whether or not they followed the right procedures in the enactment. “I, therefore, find and hold that the Mombasa County Finance Act 2019 is operating in contravention of the Constitution,” said the judge.

The Finance Act will, however, remain in force until its expiry date of December 31, this year.

 “The various acts that were operational as listed in the application for leave to remain in force until the end of the Finance Act will be enacted. And so as to avoid any doubt as to the time, till December 31,2020,” said the judge.

The court, however, found that the county conducted adequate public participation before the Act was enacted.

The Governor Hassan Joho-led administration has been using the law to collect billions of shillings annually in revenue from various levies and rates.

The petition challenging the Finance Act was filed by Mr Patrick Kabundu on behalf of bar and hotel owners and entertainment industry players in Mombasa.

They moved to court complaining that its members and Mombasa residents are faced with imminent arrest and criminal prosecution for failure to take out business operation licences based on illegally imposed fees and charges.

Unconstitutional law

They wanted the Act suspended, terming it illegal and unconstitutional.

Through the law, the petitioners said, the county has imposed illegal licences, permit fees and county land rates which are punitive and oppressive.

Mr Kabundu, the petitioners’ chairman, argued that due process was not followed when the Act was being put in place.

The petitioners challenged 14 ungazetted Bills relating to tax.

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