High Court dismisses Delmonte lease suit against counties
The High Court Friday dismissed a suit filed by Delmonte Kenya Limited against Murang’a and Kiambu counties for failure to renew their lease.
Justices Kanyi Kimondo, Chacha Mwita and Wilfrida Okwany ruled that they lack jurisdiction to entertain the petition.
“We accordingly direct the petition be struck out,” ruled Justice Mwita.
According to the judges, the dominant issue in the petition was the renewal of leases, an issue that is intrinsically connected to the use and title of the land.
“The dispute thus falls squarely with the purview of the Environment and Land Court (ELC),” they ruled.
The judges noted that although Delmonte claimed violation of various constitutional rights, those claims are intertwined with the dominant issue, which the ELC has the jurisdiction to deal with.
“We are not persuaded by the petitioner's argument that merely because it pleaded violation of various constitutional rights, the petition should be heard by the High Court,” said Justice Mwita.
In the suit, Delmonte accused the two counties of delaying and frustrating the lease extension process.
The fruit processing company argued that despite complying with the statutory procedure, the two county governments have failed to issue the letters of ‘no objection’ for extension of the leasehold terms.
They accused Murang’a County government of directing them to demarcate and allocate to them at least 1,500 acres on the Thika-Kenol highway for public use.
It was their contention that the said request is unconstitutional and illegal as the county has no basis to make such demands.
The judges, however, declined to delve into the issues for lack of jurisdiction.