i. Whether the consolidated Petitions are res-judicata:
133.The doctrine of res-judicata is a jurisdictional issue. It goes to the root of a dispute and must be considered at the earliest opportunity.
135.In our municipal laws, the doctrine of res-judicata is codified in section 7 the Civil Procedure Act, Cap. 21 of the Laws of Kenya. It provides as follows: -No courtshall try any suit or issue in which the matter directly and substantially in issue has been directly and substantially in issue in a former suit between the same parties, or between parties under whom they or any of them claim, litigating under the same title, in a court competent to try such subsequent suit or the suit in which such issue has been subsequently raised, and has been heard and finally decided by such court.
136.The doctrine of res judicata is not novel in our courts. It is a subject which Superior Courts have sufficiently expressed themselves on. For instance, the Supreme Court in Petition 14, 14A, 14B & 14C of 2014 (Consolidated) Communications Commission of Kenya & 5 Others v Royal Media Services Limited & 5 Others  eKLR delimited the operation of the doctrine of res-judicata in the following terms;The concept of res judicata operates to prevent causes of action, or issues from being relitigated once they have been determined on the merits. It encompasses limits upon both issues and claims, and the issues that may be raised in subsequent proceedings. In this case, the High Court relied on “issue estoppel”, to bar the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents’ claims. Issue estoppel prevents a party who previously litigated a claim (and lost), from taking a second bite at the cherry. This is a long-standing common law doctrine for bringing finality to the process of litigation; for avoiding multiplicities of proceedings; and for the protection of the integrity of the administration of justice? all in the cause of fairness in the settlement of disputes.This concept is incorporated in section7 of the Civil Procedure Act (Cap. 21, Laws of Kenya) which prohibits a court from trying any issue which has been substantially in issue in an earlier suit. It thus provides:There are conditions to the application of the doctrine of res judicata: (i) the issue in the first suit must have been decided by a competent court; (ii) the matter in dispute in the former suit between the parties must be directly or substantially in dispute between the parties in the suit where the doctrine is pleaded as a bar; and (iii) the parties in the former suit should be the same parties, or parties under whom they or any of them claim, litigating under the same title Karia and Another v. The Attorney General and Others,  1 EA 83, 89.So, in the instant case, the argument concerning res judicata can only succeed when it is established that the issue brought before a Court is essentially the same as another one already satisfactorily decided, before a competent court.We find that the petition at the High Court had sought to relitigate an issue already determined by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Tribunal. Instead of contesting the Tribunal’s decision through the prescribed route of judicial review at the High Court, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents instituted fresh proceedings, two years later, to challenge a decision on facts and issues finally determined. This strategy, we would observe, constitutes the very mischief that the common law doctrine of “issue estoppel” is meant to forestall. Issue estoppel “prevents a party from using an institutional detour to attack the validity of an order by seeking a different result from a different forum, rather than through the designated appellate or judicial review route” (Workers’ Compensation Board v. Figliola  3 S.C.R. 422, 438 (paragraph 28)).Whatever mode the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents adopted in couching their prayers, it is plain to us, they were challenging the decision of the Tribunal, in the High Court. It is a typical case that puts the Courts on guard, against litigants attempting to sidestep the doctrine of “issue estoppel”, by appending new causes of action to their grievance, while pursuing the very same case they lost previously. In Omondi v. National Bank of Kenya Ltd. & Others,  EA 177 the Court held that “parties cannot evade the doctrine of res judicata by merely adding other parties or causes of action in a subsequent suit.”The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, in Thomas v. The Attorney-General of Trinidad and Tobago,  LRC (Const.) 1001 held that “when a plaintiff seeks to litigate the same issue a second time relying on fresh propositions in law he can only do so if he can demonstrate that special circumstances exist for displacing the normal rules.” That court relied on a case decided by the Supreme Court of India, Daryao & Others v. The State of UP & Others, (1961) 1 SCR 574 to find that the existence of a constitutional remedy does not affect the application of the principle of res judicata. The Indian Court also rejected the notion that res judicata could not apply to petitions seeking redress with respect to an infringement of fundamental rights. Gajendragadkar J stated:Kenya’s High Court recently pronounced itself on the issue of the applicability of res judicata in constitutional claims. In Okiya Omtatah Okoiti & Another v. Attorney General & 6 Others, High Court Const. and Human Rights Division, Petition No. 593 of 2013  eKLR, Lenaola J. (at paragraph 64) thus stated:On the basis of such principles evolved in case law, it is plain to us that the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents were relitigating the denial to them of a BSD licence, and were asking the High Court to redetermine this issue.However, notwithstanding our findings based on the common law principles of estoppel and res- judicata, we remain keenly aware that the Constitution of 2010 has elevated the process of judicial review to a pedestal that transcends the technicalities of common law. By clothing their grievance as a constitutional question, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents were seeking the intervention of the High Court in the firm belief that, their fundamental right had been violated by a state organ. Indeed, this is what must have informed the Court of Appeal’s view to the effect that the appellants (respondents herein) were entitled to approach the Court and have their grievance resolved on the basis of articles 22 and 23 of the Constitution.
138.Further, the Court of Appeal in Nairobi Civil Appeal No. 107 of 2010, Kenya Commercial Bank Limited v Benjoh Amalgamated Limited, broke down the elements to be considered in application of the doctrine of res-judicata. The Learned Judges observed as follows: -
142.I will in turn consider the substratum of each of the said decisions and their ratio decidendi and pitch them against principles as set out by Superior Courts for the operation of the bar of res-judicata.
144.At the centre of the dispute was the petitioners’ contention that sections3(1), 22(1)(b), 22(2), 23(1)(b), 24(1)(b), 25(1)(b) and 26(1) of the Elections Act were unconstitutional for limiting the number of people who can vie for leadership positions to those who have post-secondary qualifications, ethical and moral attributes introducing being discriminatory and promoting inequity
145.The petitionersin the said case submitted that the set out various provisions of the Elections Act violated the provisions of article 10, 27 and 38 by providing that only persons with post-secondary qualifications can vie for elective office.
146.The respondentsopposed the Petition on the basis that the provisions of The Elections Act derived their legitimacy and validity from articles 99(1)(b), 180(2), 193(1)(b), 193(2)(g) and Chapter 6 of the Constitution and as such the court had no jurisdiction to interfere with the constitutional discretion conferred on the legislature to enact legislation and stipulate the educational threshold to be met by persons seeking to be elected to various offices under the Constitution.
147.The learned judge, in appreciating the sovereign power of the people and the exercise of such power by the legislature in making laws, gave socio-economic context in which Elections Act was enacted and within which it is to operate. The learned judge made reference to the Final Report of the Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review dated 11th October, 2010, at paragraph 7.5.2, where the Committee noted that the people of Kenya had expressed the desire for there to be a statement on the educational qualifications of Members of Parliament. She the observed as follows;Thus, the people of Kenya were clear that they needed to have people with some level of education. What this level of education would be was left to Parliament, and as expressed by the Committee of Experts, such educational qualifications would change over time. It was left to Parliament, to whom the people of Kenya had vested power to make legislation, to set the educational level required for elective office
148.The learned judge,however, gave a rider on the exercise of legislative authority and made the following remarks: -… No direct guidance was given on how such educational qualifications would be arrived at. In my view, however, in setting the educational qualifications for those aspiring to be people's representatives, Parliament needed to bear in mind the socio-economic circumstances prevailing in Kenya and the extent to which opportunities for education were available for the majority of citizens.
149.In making a finding on constitutionality of section22(1)(b), which qualifies a person for nomination as a candidate if that person holds a post-secondary school qualification recognized in Kenya, the Learned judge made comprehensive comparative analysis on what constitutes discrimination and stated as follows:Applying the test set out above, this provision of the Elections Act is, in my view, discriminatory and offends the provisions of article 27 of the Constitution which provides that………By excluding everyone who does not have a 'post-secondary qualification,' a term which is not defined in the Act, from running for any elective office established under the Constitution, the Act discriminates directly on the basis of status and social origin, for almost invariably, and as noted from the analysis of the socio-economic context above, it is the poor in society, those 18 million Kenyans living in poverty, who will not get an opportunity to acquire an education, let alone a post-secondary education
150.On whether section22(1)(b) bears a rational connection to a legitimate purpose, and, whether it can be justified under limitations provision of the Constitution, the learned judgeopined that the section fails on both accounts. She observed that:… it is common knowledge that the problem that bedevils elections in Kenya and which elections law needed to address as the bane of the citizenry has been, not uneducated elected leaders, but corrupt and unethical leaders.By requiring post-secondary educational qualifications and omitting to make more explicit provisions with regard to moral and ethical qualifications required under the Constitution, the legislature missed what has for long been the real case of the problem in Kenya's governance. I agree with the petitioners that the harm that the legislature seeks to address in enacting legislation as required under the Constitution is lack of leaders with integrity. That is why the Constitution requires the legislature to enact legislation that sets moral, ethical and educational qualifications. A requirement for a post-secondary qualification does not address the real concern of the citizenry; indeed, it violates the provisions of the Constitution by excluding many who may not, through no fault of their own, have been able to achieve post-secondary education.The provisions of section22(1)(b) also fail the test of constitutionality as they do not accord with the national values and principles, and usurp the sovereign powers of the people of Kenya. They cannot also meet the provisions of Article 24 as being' reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom….
151.In the end, the courtallowed the Petition and declared the then section22(1) unconstitutional. The decision was rendered on 29th day of June 2012. That decision was not appealed against.
154.At the heart of the dispute was the allegation that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (hereinafter referred to as ‘the IEBC’) had violated the fundamental rights and freedoms of candidates who were desirous of contesting presidential, parliamentary or county elections as independent candidates on account of the nomination requirements it set, which the Petitioner claimed were unconstitutional and violated articles27 and 38 of the Constitution.
155.There were two main issues which were deciphered by the learned judgefor consideration. They were the educational qualifications for nomination as Members of Parliament and the constitutionality of section24(1) of the Elections Act and regulations 16, 18 and 19 thereof.
156.In making an assessment of the constitutionality of section24(1) of the Elections Act, the provision that sets qualification for nomination as a Member of Parliament as against the provisions of articles 27 and 38 of the Constitution on the right to equality and political rights, the learned judge, with particular reference to article 81 of the Constitution that establishes the general principles of an electoral system observed as follows: -…. It is obvious from the above that one of the tenets of the Kenyan electoral system is the freedom of the citizens to exercise their political rights as provided for by article38 based on universal suffrage on the aspiration for fair representation and equality to vote. The argument that section24(1) of the Elections Act is unconstitutional for limiting or inhibiting the rights of the citizens to choose their leaders cannot therefore be true. I say so because again a casual reading of article 82(1) of the Constitution would show that the same Constitution has mandated parliament with powers to enact legislation on elections. Sub-article (1)(b) has empowered parliament to specifically enact legislation to provide for nomination of candidates. Pursuant to this article, Parliament enacted the Elections Act No. 11 of 2011 and the preamble to that Act states that; it is; 'An Act of Parliament to provide for the conduct of elections to the office of the President, the National Assembly, the Senate, County Governor and County Assembly; to provide for the conduct of referenda; to provide for election dispute resolution and for connected purposes'.
157.The Learned Judge went further to compare the wording of section24(1) of the Elections Act to that of article 99(1) of the Constitution and found that the former was a replica of the Constitution. As such, a declaration of its unconstitutionality would essentially be a declaration that the Constitution itself was unconstitutional, a finding that cannot be made by any Court of law. He observed as follows: -Looking at section 24(1) of the Elections Act, it in fact is a replica of article 99(1) of the Constitution and that Article as well as section 24(1) itself have set out the qualifications for persons desirous of contesting for election as Member of Parliament. I am of the view therefore that section 24(1) can neither be challenged nor can it be said to be unconstitutional because article 2(3) of the Constitution has barred this court or anyone else for that matter from challenging the validity or legality of the Constitution. The Constitution articulates the collective will, aspiration and values of its people. It is the supreme law and lays the framework for a democratic society. The people of Kenya went to the referendum in August 2010 and passed the Constitution with overwhelming majority and they have therein stated and set the qualifications of persons they desired to be their representatives to the National Assembly. Those qualifications having been so well anchored in the Constitution the same cannot now be challenged as being unconstitutional, or being in violation of another article of the same Constitution (articles 27 and 38) as argued by the Petitioner. I know no law or power that may allow this court to declare a provision anchored in the Constitution to be unconstitutional when weighed against another constitutional provision. To do so would be absurd, dramatic and chaotic. In any event, there is no single provision that has more power or authority over another.
159.The decision was appealed against to the Court of Appeal. In dismissing the appeal, the Learned Judges of Appeal held that “…the standards in regards to education qualifications for leaders seeking positions of power and responsibility cannot be discriminatory as it cuts across parties and those who do not qualify have an opportunity to seek first of all to attain the qualifications before vying for the offices.’ The appellate decision was delivered on 22nd day of November, 2019.
160.Later, on 30th January, 2017, Section 22 of the Elections Act was further amended through Elections Laws (Amendment) Act No. 1 of 2017 to provide for university degree qualification as a precondition to nomination for election and for political party lists for Members of Parliament and Members of County Assembly.
161.That amendment resulted in the challenge in Okiya Omtatah Okoiti & Another -vs- Attorney General & Another case (supra).
162.In the case, the petitionerssought to have the Court declare that under the Constitution, the only educational eligibility requirements which Parliament can impose on candidates for election as Members of County Assembly, Member of Parliament, Governor, or President is the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education or its equivalent, and/or proficiency in spoken and written English or Kiswahili.
164.Upon comparing the factual matrix of the two decisions, thelearned judge, (Korir J.) found that the two earlier decisions of Lenaola J (as he then was) and Ngugi LJ (as she then was), were centrally on constitutionality of section 22(1)(b) of the Elections Act regarding educational qualifications of candidates for elective political offices. He observed that the issue had been considered and determined previously by Courts of coordinate jurisdiction and could not be reopened. For certainty, this what the Court remarked in declining jurisdiction: -22. I, therefore, hold and find that the issue of educational qualifications in regard to the candidates for elective political offices has been put to rest by courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction. The matter has also been settled by the Court of Appeal. The issue cannot be reopened again before this court.28. It is only important to note that the issue of educational qualifications for those contesting political offices is no longer an issue available for determination by this court. That leaves me with the issue of the constitutionality of section43 of the Elections Act, 2011.
168.The now issues in the consolidated Petitions were non-existent before 2017. It can only be illogical to sustain an argument that the non-existent matter was settled way before it arose. The only forum which presented itself for a possible adjudication of the issues raised in the consolidated Petitions was the case in Okiya Omtatah Okoiti & Another -vs- Attorney General & Another case (supra). However, the Court declined jurisdiction and the matter was not fully and finally determined.
169.Having found so, by juxtaposing the legal and decisional jurisprudence on res judicata against the consolidated Petitions, it is the finding of this Court that the consolidated Petitions are not res judicata.
170.The first issue is, hence, answered in the negative. I will now turn to the second issue.
ii. Whether the consolidated Petitions are caught up by the ripeness doctrine:
171.The Ripeness doctrine is one facet of the larger principle of non-justiciability. It is a jurisdictional issue that bars a Court from considering a dispute whose resolution has not crystallized enough as to warrant Court’s intervention. Its operation is informed by the idea that there exist other fora with the capacity to resolve the dispute other than Court process.
173.It is the respondentsand interested party’scontention that Parliament had received the Public Petitions challenging the constitutionality of section 22(1)(b)(ii) of the Elections Act and that it was in the process of considering them. As such, it was not ripe for this Court to exercise its jurisdiction during the pendency of the process before Parliament.
174.Mr. Mbarak, Counsel for the 3rd respondent and who also held brief for Miss Omuom for the Hon. Attorney General, submitted that there are Election (Amendment Bill) No.42 of 2021 and Election (Amendment Bill) No. 43 of 2021 both which seek to repeal the impugned provision. He indicated that it was imperative to allow Parliament to discharge its duty and that a court cannot legislate on behalf of Parliament as the Public Petitions seek similar redress as the Petitioners in the consolidated Petitions.
175.Counsel further submitted that since the High Court has residuary power over the legislations passed by Parliament, then it is imperative that Parliament be allowed to act first.
176.In opposition to Mr. Mbarak’s position, Counsel for the 1st 2nd and 3rd petitioners herein, Mr. Njenga, submitted that no law was cited by Counsel for the 3rd respondent to support the argument that Court’s jurisdiction was ousted since Parliament is dealing with the matter.
177.The question that begs for an answer is whether the Public Petitions presented before Parliament concerning the constitutionality of section 22(1)(b)(ii) of the Elections Act can competently address the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Petitioners herein as to render the consolidated Petitions herein not ripe for consideration.
178.In determining this contention, I will first resort to article119 of the Constitution which provision was heavily relied upon by the 3rd Respondent in its argument aforesaid. It provides as follows: -119. Right to petition Parliament(1)Every person has a right to petition Parliament to consider any matter within its authority, including to enact, amend or repeal any legislation.(2)Parliament shall make provision for the procedure for the exercise of this right.
179.The National Assembly is part of the Parliament of Kenya. Its primary function is codified in Articles 94 and 95 of the Constitution. It largely provides that the National Assembly exercises legislative authority on behalf of the people. Under Article 95, its role is to represent the people of the constituencies and special interests in the National Assembly, deliberate on and resolve issues of concern to the people and enacts legislation in accordance with Part 4 of Chapter 8.
180.There has been judicial discussion as to whether Courts have jurisdiction over matters which are subject of pending Petitions before Parliament. In Petition 381 & 430 of 2014 (Consolidated) Council of Governors & 3 others v Senate & 53 others  eKLR the Court dismissed the argument that Courts did not have such jurisdiction. The Learned Judges referred to an earlier decision in The Council of Governors and Others vs. The Senate Petition No. 413 of 2014 and made the following emphatic remarks: -…. It is also incumbent on the courtto consider its jurisdiction in relation to the present matter, which revolves around the functions and distribution of powers between the national and county governments. This is in light of the argument by the AG that the petitioner should have approached Parliament if it was dissatisfied with the provisions of the CGAA, implying that the court has no jurisdiction to deal with this matter and that any dispute with regard to its provisions should be addressed to Parliament.This argument, in our view, runs counter to the constitutional provisions with respect to the jurisdiction of this court. At article165(3)(d)(i), this Court is given the jurisdiction to determine the question whether any law is inconsistent with or in contravention of the Constitution. The jurisdiction of the Court to invalidate laws that are unconstitutional is in harmony with its duty to be the custodian of the Constitution, which pronounces its supremacy at Article 2 by proclaiming, at Article 2(4), that “Any law, including customary law, that is inconsistent with this Constitution is void to the extent of the inconsistency, and any act or omission in contravention of this Constitution is invalid.”Similarly, the general provisions of the Constitution, which are set out in Article 258 contain the express right to every person to “… institute court proceedings, claiming that this Constitution has been contravened, or is threatened with contravention.” As this Court held in The Council of Governors and Others vs. The Senate (supra):We are duly guided and this Court vested with the power to interpret the Constitution and to safeguard, protect and promote its provisions as provided for under Article 165(3) of the Constitution, has the duty and obligation to intervene in actions of other arms of Government and State Organs where it is alleged or demonstrated that the Constitution has either been violated or threatened with violation. In that regard, the Petition before us alleges a violation of the Constitution by the Respondent and in the circumstances, it is our finding that the doctrine of separation of power does not inhibit this Court's jurisdiction to address the Petitioner's grievances so long as they stem out of alleged violations of the Constitution. In fact the invitation to do so is most welcome as that is one of the core mandates of this Court”.
181.In Council of Governors & 3 others v Senate & 53 others  eKLR the Learned Judges interpreted the right to Petition Parliament under article119 and whether it takes away the right to approach the High Court as follows: -… The question is whether this provision is intended to take away the right of a party to question the constitutionality of an Act of Parliament, or indeed any action taken by the legislature, guaranteed under Articles 22 and 258. Further, whether it can also be taken as ousting the jurisdiction of the Court under Article 165(3)(d) to determine any question respecting the interpretation of the Constitution, including “the question whether any law is inconsistent with or in contravention of” the Constitution, or under article165(3)(d)(iii), to determine any matter “…relating to constitutional powers of State organs in respect of county governments and any matter relating to the constitutional relationship between the levels of government”?In our view, the answer must be in the negative. Doubtless, Article 119(i) will serve a useful purpose in allowing citizens to petition Parliament to consider matters of concern to them that are within the purview of Parliament, including the repeal or amendment of legislation. It appears to us, however, that Article 119 is not intended to cover situations such as is presently before this Court.It would therefore be, in our view, for the Court to abdicate its responsibility under the Constitution to hold that a party who considers that legislation enacted by Parliament in any way violates the Constitution is bound to first petition Parliament with respect to the said legislation. The constitutional mandate to consider the constitutionality of legislation is vested in the High Court, and articles2(4) and 165(3(d)(i) mandate this Court to invalidate any law, act or omission that is inconsistent with the Constitution. This is in harmony with the mandate of the courts to be the final custodian of the Constitution.This Court appreciates that where there is a clear procedure for redress of any particular grievance prescribed by the Constitution or an Act of Parliament, that procedure should be strictly followed. Article 3(1) of the Constitution enjoins every person to respect, uphold and defend the Constitution. Similarly, article258(1) thereof donates the power to every person to institute court proceedings claiming that the Constitution has been contravened, or is threatened with contravention. If this Court were to shirk its constitutional duty under article165(3)(d), it would have failed in carrying out its mandate as the temple of justice and constitutionalism and the last frontier of the rule of law. In the circumstances, the argument that the petitioner should have approached Parliament under article119(1) is without merit.
182.I am in agreement with the above. I, however, wish to add that the power of Parliament under article119 of the Constitution to enact, amend or repeal any legislation is not in any way curtailed by the High Court’s exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 165(3) of the Constitution. Whereas Parliament has the preserve to enact, amend or repeal any legislation, Courts have the duty to ensure that Parliament inter alia keeps within the constitutional borders while discharging its mandate. That is where the difference lies. As such, the Court’s exercise of its jurisdiction in determining whether Parliament acted within the Constitution in coming up with the impugned law cannot be seen as an affront to the doctrine of separation of powers. The two are distinct mandates under the Constitution.
183.In this case, the Petitioners contend that the National Assembly in passing the amendment that resulted to the impugned section22(1)(b)(ii) of the Elections Act did not act within the Constitution. That is very different from the Parliament’s power to reconsider and possibly amend or repeal the impugned provision. In any event, there is no proposition that the decision of Parliament on the Public Petitions is binding on this Court.
184.As a result, this Court finds that the contention that the consolidated Petitions are caught up by the doctrine of ripeness fails and is hereby dismissed.
185.Having so found, I will now proceed on to consider the third issue.
iv. Whether section 22(1)(b)(ii) of the Elections Act offends articles 24, 27, 38(2), 55 and 56 of the Constitution:
193.At the heart of the consolidated Petitions is section 22(1)(b)(ii) of the Elections Act (hereinafter referred to as ‘the impugned provision’). The entire section 22 provides as follows: -Nominations and Elections Generally22. Qualifications for nomination of candidates(1)A person may be nominated as a candidate for an election under this Act only if that person—(a)is qualified to be elected to that office under the Constitution and this Act; and(b)holds––(i)in the case of a Member of Parliament, a degree from a university recognized in Kenya; or(ii)in the case of member of a county assembly, a degree from a university recognized in Kenya.(1A) Notwithstanding subsection (1), this section shall come into force and shall apply to qualifications for candidates in the general elections to be held after the 2017 general elections.(1B) The provisions …….(2)Notwithstanding …….(2A) For the purposes ….
194.It was vehemently submitted that the effect of the impugned provision is to limit political rights in ways which are not in tandem with the limitations in article 24 of the Constitution. The petitioners also pointed out that the impugned provision contravenes other articlesof the Constitution.
195.Before I address the main issue being the constitutionality of the impugned provision, I will, in the first instance, have a brief look at the constitutional provisions on the elective position of Member of County Assembly.
196.The post of a Member of County Assembly was primarily informed by the concept of devolution. There was need to decentralize power and Government services by having a political representative of the people at the lowest cadre of the political spectrum.
197.As a result, the Constitution created County Governments under article 176, and, as follows: -176. County governments(1)There shall be a county government for each county, consisting of a county assembly and a county executive.(2)Every county government shall decentralise its functions and the provision of its services to the extent that it is efficient and practicable to do so.
198.Being the lowest cadre of representation of the people, a County Assembly was created for each county.
199.In article 177, the Constitution provides for the membership of the County Assembly in the following manner: -177. Membership of County Assembly(1)A county assembly consists of—(2)The members contemplated in clause (1)(b) and (c) shall, in each case, be nominated by political parties in proportion to the seats received in that election in that county by each political party under paragraph (a) in accordance with article 90.(3)The filling of special seats under clause (1)(b) shall be determined after declaration of elected members from each ward.(4)A county assembly is elected for a term of five years.
200.Article 177, therefore, created the smallest unit of political representation called the Ward.
201.In order to contest for the seat of Member of County Assembly, the Constitution set the qualifications in Article 193 as follows: -
202.Qualifications for election as member of county assembly(1)Unless disqualified under clause (2), a person is eligible for election as a member of a county assembly if the person—(a)is registered as a voter;(b)satisfies any educational, moral and ethical requirements prescribed by this Constitution or an Act of Parliament; and(c)is either—(i)nominated by a political party; or(ii)an independent candidate supported by at least five hundred registered voters in the ward concerned.(2)A person is disqualified from being elected a member of a county assembly if the person—a)is a State officer or other public officer, other than a member of the county assembly;b)has, at any time within the five years immediately before the date of election, held office as a member of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission;c)has not been a citizen of Kenya for at least the ten years immediately preceding the date of election;d)is of unsound mind;e)is an undischarged bankrupt;f)is serving a sentence of imprisonment of at least six months; org)has been found, in accordance with any law, to have misused or abused a State office or public office or to have contravened Chapter Six.(3)A person is not disqualified under clause (2) unless all possibility of appeal or review of the relevant sentence or decision has been exhausted
203.Juxtaposed with the foregoing are the political rights in Article 38 of the Constitution which provides as follows: -(1)Every person has the right to freedom of association, which includes the right to form, join or participate in the activities of an association of any kind.(2)A person shall not be compelled to join an association of any kind.(3)Any legislation that requires registration of an association of any kind shall provide that—(a)a) registration may not be withheld or withdrawn unreasonably; and(b)there shall be a right to have a fair hearing before a registration is cancelled.
204.The above are the various constitutional provisions which have a bearing on the position of a Member of a County Assembly (hereinafter referred to as ‘MCA’).
205.To spruce up the discussion on devolution, I will make reference to a decision of the Supreme Court in Kenya. It is Advisory Opinion Reference 2 of 2013, In the Matter of the Speaker of the Senate & another  eKLR. In the matter, the Supreme Court discussed at length the concept of devolution, the mandate of devolved Government units and more importantly, for purposes of this judgment, the historical foundation of creation the position of Member of County Assembly. The judges of the apex court observed as follows: -
206.Having said as much, I will now look at the impugned provision against the foregoing constitutional provisions.
207.A careful consideration of the impugned provision against the various constitutional provisions cited above, reveal that the impugned provision is a limitation to the political rights under article38(3) of the Constitution. As a result, such a limitation must, in the first instance, pass the constitutional muster in article24 of the Constitution.
208.In the course of the legal discourse, I will not lose sight of the principles of constitutional and statutory interpretation discussed in the preceding issue and to the words of the Supreme Court in In the Matter of the Speaker of the Senate & another case (supra) that the dominant perception at the time of constitution-making was that such the deconcentration of powers would open up the scope for political self-fulfilment, through an enlarged scheme of actual participation in governance mechanisms by the people – thus giving more fulfilment to the concept of democracy. I will also be guided by the three tests discussed in R vs. Oakes as captured in Petition No. E327 of 2020 Law Society of Kenya vs. The Attorney General and Another (2021) eKLR.
209.The creation of the elective position of MCA, therefore, serves two main purposes. First, the position was fronted for by Kenyans and got constitutionally entrenched for the purpose of enhancing service delivery to the people. Second, the position was created in order to open up democracy through the enlargement of people participation in governance.
210.. Turning back to article 24 of the Constitution and due to its centrality in this discussion, I will reproduce it verbatim and as follows: -Limitation of rights and fundamental freedoms(1)A right or fundamental freedom in the Bill of Rights shall not be limited except by law, and then only to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom, taking into account all relevant factors, including: -(2)Despite clause (1), a provision in legislation limiting a right or fundamental freedom: -(3)The State or a person seeking to justify a particular limitation shall demonstrate to the court, tribunal or other authority that the requirements of this article have been satisfied.(4)The provisions of this Chapter on equality shall be qualified to the extent strictly necessary for the application of Muslim law before the Kadhis’ courts, to persons who profess the Muslim religion, in matters relating to personal status, marriage, divorce and inheritance.(5)Despite clause (1) and (2), a provision in legislation may limit the application of the rights or fundamental freedoms in the following provisions to persons serving in the Kenya Defence Forces or the National Police Service: -
211.. According to the Constitution, it is not wrong for a statute to limit a right or fundamental freedom. However, what stands out is the requirement that the limitation must pass the test in article 24. In other words, a permissible limitation must be reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom. In determining whether a statute passes such a test, the Constitution provides several factors to be considered. Some of them are captured in article 24(1).
212.The Petitioners variously argued that the limitation imposed by the impugned provision fail the tests in article 24 of the Constitution since it is not reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom. In doing so, they gave some examples. I will only recap some of them. There was the issue that according to the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census Report (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Report’) only 1.2 Million Kenyans held university degrees. That translated to 3.5% of the entire Kenyan population. Out of the 1.2Million university graduates, 25% of them are in Nairobi County. The balance is shared between the rest of the 46 counties. The Report went further to give the statistics at Ward levels. For instance, in Mau Forest sub-county which has 5 wards there were only 2 university graduates. It, hence, means that some of the Wards will not have representatives, that is if the two graduates successfully offer themselves for the positions of MCAs. More appalling is the fact that there are no university graduates in the entire Mt. Elgon sub-county as well as Kakamega Forest sub-county.
213.The Report is part of the evidence in the consolidated Petitions. That Report is not in any way controverted neither is there any other contradictory evidence. Since the Report is a public document and which remain uncontested, I will, in accordance with partIV of the Evidence Act, Cap. 80 of the Laws of Kenya adopt it as admissible evidence.
214.With such uncontroverted evidence, it is clear that the impugned provision will have adverse effects on the representation of the people at the ward level. Indeed, unless the contrary is proved, which at the moment is not, the impugned provision has the effect of rendering some wards without representation at the County assemblies.
215.There was also the issue of the failure to recognise other relevant qualifications and experiences which can be equated to convectional degrees. It was argued that the Kenya National Qualifications Framework Act, No. 22 of 2014 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the National Qualifications Act’) is aimed at recognising and awarding qualifications otherwise gained from the convectional formal training.
216.The respondents and the interested party did not, once again, make any responses to the argument. That notwithstanding, I will, nevertheless, deal with the matter.
217.The National Qualifications Act defines ‘National Qualifications Framework’, ‘qualifications’ and ‘training’ as follows: -
218.Section 3 thereof gives the guiding principles of the national framework as follows: -The guiding principles for the framework shall be, among others, to promote access to and equity in education, quality and relevance of qualifications, evidence based competence, and flexibility of access to and affordability of education, training assessment and qualifications.
220.The objects of the National Qualifications Act are stated in section 4 thereof as follows: -(a)establish the Kenya National Qualifications Authority;(b)establish standards for recognising qualifications obtained in Kenya and outside Kenya;(c)develop a system of competence, life-long learning and attainment of national qualifications;(d)align the qualifications obtained in Kenya with the global benchmarks in order to promote national and trans-national mobility of workers;(e)strengthen the national quality assurance systems for national qualifications; and(f)facilitate mobility and progression within education, training and career paths.
221.Section 6 of the National Qualifications Act establishes the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Authority’). Its functions are provided for in section 8 as follows:(a)co-ordinate and supervise the development of policies on national qualifications;(b)develop a framework for the development of an accreditation system on qualifications;(c)develop a system for assessment of national qualifications;(d)develop and review interrelationships and linkages across national qualifications in consultation with stakeholders, relevant institutions and agencies;(e)maintain a national database of national qualifications;(f)publish manuals, codes and guidelines on national qualifications;(g)advise and support any person, body or institution which is responsible for the award of national qualifications;(h)publish an annual report on the status of national qualifications;(i)set standards and benchmarks for qualifications and competencies including skills, knowledge, attitudes and values;(j)define the levels of qualifications and competencies;(k)provide for the recognition of attainment or competencies including skills, knowledge, attitudes and values;(1)facilitate linkages, credit transfers and exemptions and a vertical and horizontal mobility at all levels to enable entry, re-entry and exit; and(m)conduct research on equalization of qualifications;(n)establish standards for harmonization and recognition of national and foreign qualifications;(o)build confidence in the national qualifications system that contributes to the national economy;(p)provide pathways that support the development and maintenance of flexible access to qualifications;(q)promote the recognition of national qualifications internationally; and(r)perform such other functions as may be provided under this Act.
222.The above provisions reveal the position that the law recognises other modes of qualifications further to the convectional ones. The law establishes the manner in which relevant qualifications may be awarded to a person. There is no doubt that such qualifications may, in appropriate instances, be equated to convectional degrees. There is, therefore, a law which attains the same purpose as the impugned provision.
223.The danger posed by the impugned provision is that it tends to disregard any other qualification, but for a university degree. It, therefore, renders the provisions of the National Qualifications Act inapplicable in the election of MCAs.
224.To me, the National Qualifications Act accords a less restrictive means to achieve the very purpose aimed at by the impugned provision. The National Qualifications Act does not constrict the number of those who may contest for the positions of MCAs to convectional degrees’ holders, but widens the cage to a holder of any other relevant qualification. The National Qualifications Act recognises the truism that a person may, through other qualifications, attain an equivalent of a university degree.
226.Closely related to the above discussion is the cost of attaining university degrees. It was posited that apart from free primary education, the cost of the rest of the educational pursuits in Kenya are borne by the parties undertaking such pursuits. It was further posited that since it costs a considerable amount of money to acquire a degree qualification in Kenya, such costs are way beyond the ability of many Kenyans.
227.It was further argued that the State is yet to have a 100% transition from secondary schools to the universities. According to the Report, it was argued that only 16% of the students who sit for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE), transit to the university. The rest, 84%, have to find other forms of training and qualifications.
228.The petitioners, therefore, view the impugned provision as an unfair means of securing the positions of MCAs to a smaller clique of wealthy people.
229.Once again, the respondents and the Interested Party did not make any response to the said argument.
230.Although the petitioners did not state the average cost of obtaining a degree qualification in Kenya, there is no doubt that there is such a cost and that the cost is not within the reach of the majority of Kenyans. The prevailing situation which this Court takes judicial notice of is that most Kenyans are literary surviving from hand to mouth with the wealthy few increasing their insatiable appetite for more by the day.
231.Subjecting all the candidates for the positions of MCA to a minimum of university degrees at once, therefore, highly prejudices the rights and fundamental freedoms of those who are not able to directly acquire the university degrees.
232.There was a further argument on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the university education. It was submitted that the said pandemic interfered with the university academic programmes such that there are those students who were graduate before 2022, but for the pandemic. If such a group of persons is to be left out on account of the impugned provision, then they stand unfairly discriminated against and yet the effects of the pandemic were way far beyond the world’s control.
233.Again, there was no response to the contestation.
234.One of the petitioners fall within that cadre. It is the 6th petitioner, Daniel Ndambuki Mutua, who is student at the Kenyatta University School of Security, Diplomacy & Peace Studies. He hoped to graduate before 2022, but as a result of the effects of the pandemic, he will not have graduated by the year 2022.
235.There is no doubt that such a class of university students will stand discriminated if the impugned provision stands.
236.The Petitioners also raised the issue of the need to have different qualifications for different positions. According to the Petitioners, as a result of the impugned provision, all elective positions in Kenya attract similar qualifications, but surprisingly the positions have different remunerations and benefits. They argued that there is need for differentiated qualifications just like the differentiated income.
237.The respondentsand Interested Party took the position that part of the work of an MCA is legislative and as such there is need for one to be able to at least have some basic understanding of such processes thereby attracting the requirement of a university degree.
238.In a rejoinder, the petitionersposited that the respondentsand Interested Party did not, through evidence, demonstrate how the county assemblies have so far failed to discharge their mandates as a result of the lack of the university degree qualifications by some of the MCAs.
239.It is a fact that the impugned provision has the effect of making all elective positions in Kenya attract similar academic qualifications. In other words, all those who aspire to vie for the position of the President, the Deputy President, Governor, Member of Parliament and MCA in Kenya must possess a minimum of a university degree academic qualification.
240.There is no doubt that the responsibilities bestowed upon the offices of the President, the Deputy President, Governor, Member of Parliament and MCA differ. The President, no doubt, bears the greatest and overall responsibility as the Head of State and Government in Kenya in accordance with Article 131 of the Constitution whereas the MCA is a representative of the smallest representative unit in Kenya known as a Ward. Whereas on one hand there is only one President in Kenya, there are, on the other hand, over 2000 MCAs in the country.
241.As a result of the foregoing, the need for differentiated qualifications, whether academic or otherwise, becomes apparent. I say so partly on the basis of the early discussion on the national status of those holding university degrees. Further to the prevailing education status in Kenya and the law, and in keeping with the Supreme Court’s guidance in In the Matter of the Speaker of the Senate & another case (supra) that the dominant perception at the time of constitution-making was that such the deconcentration of powers would open up the scope for political self-fulfilment, through an enlarged scheme of actual participation in governance mechanisms by the people – thus giving more fulfilment to the concept of democracy, it can only be logical to have different academic qualifications, at least for the lowest cadre of the representatives of the people being the MCAs.
242.As I make this statement, it must be clear that I am not fronting the position that university educational qualifications or their equivalent are not necessary for those seeking the candidature of MCAs, not at all! The reality is that Kenya is a member of the international community and has so far taken several steps and programmes in attaining some of the globally agreed standards. Such include the effort in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as political rights through various initiatives including, but not limited to, execution of international covenants. Therefore, a time is soon catching up with us when the dictates of global demands and trends will make a university degree qualification or its equivalent an inevitable necessity in every elective position.
243.However, at the moment, I do not think that the impugned provision was well thought out. To equate the academic qualifications of all elective positions in Kenya at par, without any differentiation, without regard to the different attending responsibilities and by disregarding the different remuneration and benefits, the impugned provision runs contra several provisions of the Constitution. There is, therefore, the need for the impugned provision to be relooked at, at least with a view of taking into account the need for differentiated qualifications and in keeping with the prevailing and targeted social, economic and educational realities in Kenya.
244.I believe I have so far captured the heart of the rival positions. At this point, I must echo the words of the Learned Judge in Johnson Muthama -vs- Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs & Another case (supra) to the effect that as Parliament discharges its legislative responsibility its focus must also be on the ethical standards of those seeking public offices and not only on educational pursuits.
245.Having said so, it, therefore, comes out that the impugned provisions does not augur well with several constitutional provisions. For instance, it does not pass the test of limitation in article24 of the Constitution. The impugned provision is, hence, an affront to the Constitution.
246.Further, the impugned provision offends article27 of the Constitution to the extent that it, unfairly and without justification, discriminates on the basis of educational qualifications. It also fails to treat every person equal before the law. I say so in view of the position that whereas the law recognises equivalent qualifications, the impugned provision outrightly disregards that and firmly settles for only convectional university degrees. The impugned provision also fails to take into account the category of the people who, while already admitted into the university, cannot graduate before 2022 as a result of the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
247.Article 38(3) of the Constitution is also infringed to the extent that the impugned provision places unreasonable restrictions to the exercise of political rights. I have already demonstrated that there exists legislation that accords a less restrictive means to achieve the very purpose aimed at by the impugned provision.
248.The impugned provision likewise failed to take into account the dictates in article56 of the Constitution regarding the rights of the minority and marginalised groups.
249.In sum, therefore, the impugned provision contravenes articles24, 27, 38(3) and 56 of the Constitution.