The High Court in Nairobi has declined to suspend new public gathering regulations issued by the government in a case filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).
LSK moved to court on Monday to challenge the regulations announced by the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) and ratified during a Cabinet meeting held at Statehouse in Nairobi on October 8 arguing that they are unlawful and breach the right to assemble.
While declining to temporarily stay the new security measures, Justice Antony Murima directed that the respondents (the Attorney General and Inspector General of National Police Service) to file and serve responses together with written submissions by close of business Friday, October 16.
“In order to command an orderly conduct of the court business this court will abide by the orders of the court made on 13th of this month. I will therefore not consider the request for interim conservatory orders at this point in time,” Justice Antony Murima ruled.
The judge noted that the matter was coming up for directions as directed by justice Weldon Korir.
“The order of the court was clear and that the matter was to be fixed before him for directions on the hearing. The court did not make any order for considerations for prayer 2, 3 and 4 of the application,” said Justice Murima.
Some of the regulations announced by the government require leaders intending to hold a public gathering to notify the Officer Commanding Station (OCS) of such intent 3-14 days before gathering.
The lawyers wanted the court to issue orders restraining the Inspector General of Police, acting by himself or agents under his command, from seeking to license or holding of public gatherings, meetings and processions, banning, disrupting or interfering with peaceful public gathering, meetings and processions of LSK.
LSK argues that the directives made to restrict public gatherings do not create a dichotomy between excluded meetings and those meetings which require permission.
The society wants the court to determine whether the regulations approved by cabinet for the use of Section 5 of the Public Order Act Cap 56 of the Laws are “unlawful, unconstitutional and in violation of the constitution.”
The lawyers also want the court to determine whether the directives have been used discriminatorily and selectively to suppress divergent opinions.