1.Pursuant to leave granted on 23rd March, 2022 to the ex parte applicant, Vincent Rotich Kiboi, to institute Judicial Review proceedings, the ex parte applicant, filed the notice of motion dated 14th April, 2022 and filed on an even date seeking an order of Certiorari to remove to this court for purpose of being quashed the decision of the 1st respondent contained in a judgment dated 22nd September 2021 in Elgeyo Marakwet Upper Cheptebo Appeal to the Minister Case No.35 of 2018 giving ownership of plot No.1272 within Upper Cheptebo “B” Adjudication Section to the interested party, John Kiprotich Kiplagat. The ex parte applicant also seeks an order of prohibition to prohibit the 3rd to 6th respondents and the interested party from implementing or executing the impugned decision of the 1st respondent. The ex parte applicant further seeks an order setting aside the impugned decision of the 1st respondent and remitting the appeal to the Minister for re-trial.
2.The application is premised on the grounds that the ex parte applicant was the appellant in appeal to the Minister No.35 of 2018 over land parcel number No.1272 within upper Cheptebo “B” Adjudication section while the Interested Party was the Respondent; that the Appeal was heard by the 1st respondent who had no jurisdiction to hear and determine the appeal and that during hearing of the appeal the ex parte applicant was not accorded an opportunity to properly present his case as he was suffering from a recurring memory lapse. It is further contended that the 1st respondent was manifestly biased against the ex parte applicant and failed to observe the rules of natural justice by denying the ex parte applicant and his witnesses an opportunity to be heard. It is further contended that the 1st respondent violated the ex parte applicant’s right to a fair administrative action and that the proceedings of the appeal are saddled with irrational and procedural improprieties.
3.The application is accompanied by a statutory statement and an affidavit in verification of the facts relied on in support of the application. The ex parte applicant has annexed the following documents to the affidavit in verification of facts:-i.Copy of the proceedings and the impugned decision of the 1st respondent marked VRK-1;ii.Copy of mental assessment document/report of the ex parte applicant marked VRK-2;iii.Copy of the order issued by the court granting the applicant leave to commence judicial review proceedings marked VRK-3.
4.In reply and opposition to the application, the 1st respondent filed the replying affidavit he swore on 26th May, 2022. In that affidavit, the 1st respondent has deposed that the ex parte has not proved that he was suffering from memory lapse when the Appeal was heard; that the ex parte applicant has admitted that he was allowed to participate in the proceedings by himself and through his witnesses; that the proceedings in the Appeal annexed to the ex parte applicant’s affidavit and in his replying affidavit confirm that the ex parte applicant was given an opportunity to be heard and to cross examine the respondent and his witnesses; that there is no evidence that he failed to observe rules of natural justice; that all the parties in the Appeal were given reasonable opportunity to be heard and to present their evidence; that no party was discriminated against and that the ex parte applicant has not proved that he was a neutral arbiter.
5.The 1st respondent has further deposed that Appeal cases are done after several other avenues have been employed by the dissatisfied parties and that the ex parte applicant has not proved that he acted ultra vires and irrationally to warrant the issuance of the orders sought.
6.The Interested Party, filed the replying affidavit he swore on 18th July 2022 through which he has deposed that the 1st respondent had power to hear and determine the appeal hereto; that the ex parte applicant did not challenge the jurisdiction of the 1st respondent at the Appeal stage and the decision of the 1st respondent is final as far as ascertainment of interest to the suit property is concerned and that the instant applicant is an appeal disguised as a Judicial Review application. Further, that the allegation that the ex parte applicant was suffering from memory lapse did not arise during hearing of the Appeal (the alleged memory lapse was not disclosed to the Minister during hearing of the appeal) and that it has not been substantiated.
7.It is further deposed that during hearing of the Appeal, the ex parte applicant availed two witnesses and cross examined the adverse party and his witnesses; that the ex parte applicant and he were afforded equal treatment and opportunity to be heard and to present their case during the hearing of the appeal.
8.It is the interested party’s case that the ex parte applicant has not made up a case for being granted the orders sought.
9.Pursuant to directions given on 30th May 2022, the suit was disposed of by way of written submissions.
10.I have carefully read and considered the pleadings filed in this case, the affidavit evidence and the submissions by the parties and find the sole issue for the court’s determination to be whether the ex parte applicant has made up a case for being granted the orders sought.
11.This being an application for Judicial Review, for the ex parte applicant to be granted the orders sought, he has to demonstrate that the decision or act complained of is tainted with illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety. In that regard see the case of Pastoli vs. Kabale District Local Government Council & others (2008) 2 EA 300 where it was held:-
12.In the circumstances of this case, the 1st respondent is inter alia said to have acted without jurisdiction when he heard the Appeal herein on the ground that the Appeal ought to have been heard by the Deputy County Commissioner, Keiyo South where the suit property is situated.
13.It is noteworthy, that the 1st respondent in his replying affidavit neither denied the allegation that the subject matter of the Appeal is situated in Keiyo South Sub County nor gave an account of the circumstances upon which he heard the Appeal hereto. Given that the Appeal would ordinarily have been heard by the DCC Keiyo South, the 1st respondent ought to have given an account of the circumstances upon which he heard the Appeal.
14.Whilst it is not in dispute that the 1st respondent as a Deputy County Commissioner has delegated authority to hear appeals to the Minister under Section 29 of the Land Adjudication Act, Cap 284 Laws of Kenya, a question of law arises to wit whether the 1st respondent has jurisdiction to hear appeals to the Minister not falling within his area of jurisdiction that is to say the sub-county for which he is appointed and deployed to serve.
15.In addressing that issue, it is important to reproduce the gazette notice through which the Minister donated her powers to DCCs. The Gazette notice reads as follows: -
16.Whilst the notice does not expressly address the question as to whether Deputy County Commissioners have universal jurisdiction to hear and determine Appeals to the Minister, noting that the jurisdiction is tied to all the sub-counties and taking judicial notice of the fact that ordinarily a Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) may not exercise jurisdiction in the area of operation of another DCC, while that other DCC is in office; I am of the considered view that, in the circumstances of this case, where the Appeal was heard by a DCC different from the DCC of the area where the subject matter is situated, an explanation ought to have been offered as to why the Appeal was heard by a DCC other than the one who ought to have heard it. I say this because under Section 15 of the Coordination of National Government Act, 2013 DCCs are appointed for specific sub-counties. In that regard see the said section which provides as follows: -
17.In view of the foregoing, I agree with the ex parte applicant’s contention and submission that the 1st respondent had no power/jurisdiction to determine the appeal preferred by him. Anything done without jurisdiction is a nullity. In that regard see the case of Lucy Bosire vs. Nyankoni Manga Rovi (2014) e KLR where it was held:-
18.On that ground alone, I find and hold that the ex parte applicant has made up a case for being granted the orders sought, which I hereby grant to him as prayed. For avoidance of doubt, the Appeal to the Minister hereto is resubmitted for hearing by the DCC Keiyo South Sub County for re-trial.