All eyes on Muturi as he delivers rulings on seven report issues

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021 00:00 |
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi. Photo/PD/File

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi is today expected to rule on seven constitutional issues, which will determine whether the House will amend the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill or not.

Muturi will, in his determination, also say whether the Bill is a popular initiative as contemplated under Article 257 of the Constitution or not.

The Speaker will also rule on whether a bill to amend the Constitution by popular initiative, such as the BBI Bill, can be amended or not.

A document seen by People Daily on issues to be addressed by the Speaker points out Muturi will consider whether there was value of conducting public participation on it as indeed done by the Joint Committee or not. 

Further, Muturi will also consider the variations in the version of the BBI Bills before the Senate and the National Assembly. He will determine which version the two Houses will vote on.

Speaker will also attend to the issue of whether the 47 county assemblies followed the procedure and process contained in Article 257 in passing the Bill, and if not, what should follow.

“Did the Bill meet the required constitutional threshold before being introduced in Parliament on March 4, 2021 and if not, what next?” poses the document.

Muturi is also expected to rule on whether the Bill offends the “basic structure” of the  2010 Constitution.

“Does the Bill actually contain “unconstitutional” constitutional amendments as noted by the Justice Committee? If so, what next?” the document.

Another fundamental constitutional matter Muturi will tackle is the many pending court cases on consideration of the Bill currently before Parliament.

Members have sought from the Speaker to determine whether Parliament can await the consolidated judgment before voting on the Bill in line with the sub-judice rule.

Further, Muturi will decide the procedure applicable to the consideration of a bill to amend the Constitution by popular initiative in the House like BBI.

He will also make a decision on the voting threshold in each stage, namely, the First Reading, Second Reading and Third Reading.

Stormy note

Debate on the BBI Bill kicked off on a stormy note last week with MPs differing sharply on whether it was properly before Parliament.

The issue of constitutionality dominated debate in yesterday’s sitting, with members questioning their role in legislating the Bill.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale was the first to seek the Speaker’s intervention on the constitutionality of the Bill on the value of public participation.

“What is the value of public participation on  the Constitution and bill conducted by joint committee?” posed Duale.

Duale also wanted Muturi to address the weighty issue regarding the delimitation of constituencies, creation of the office of the Ombudsman, and the roles of National Police Service and the Judicial Service Commission under the new dispensation.

“In my view, the drafters of the Constitution did not formulate article 118 in terms of public participation just for the sake of it,” stated Duale. 

He added: “Should the submission by the public be thrown in the Cabinet or should they be used to determine the fate of this Bill?”

Duale sought. He further wants the Speaker to state whether the submissions of the Joint Committee of Justice and Legal Affairs be used for voting. 

 Ugenya MP David Ochieng asked Muturi to address the role of Parliament when dealing with this Bill.

“Can this House amend this Bill? Can we introduce new clauses? The committee concerned had to deal with various legal issues.

Mr Speaker, would you guide us to what extent our powers go,” Ochieng stated.

Ochieng also brought the fundamental issue of whether the process is a popular initiative or an Executive Bill.

“Tax payers’ money was used in initiating this Bill and thus it ceases being a popularly initiated piece of legislation if so, does it fit the provisions of Article 257 of the Constitution which states that only a people-driven Bill can pass without amendments?” Ochieng posed.

Further, Ochieng sought to know whether the Joint committee had access to reports of the BBI taskforces and whether there was a Kenyan who asked for 70 more constituencies.

Minority Leader John Mbadi, while dismissing his colleagues, said the Constitution was created by the people of Kenya and it was the same people who can amend it.

“You cannot call what goes to the people of Kenya as unconstitutional, they are the ones who can make or undo the Constitution,” maintained Mbadi.

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