1.The petitioner was an employee of the 1st respondent until December 19, 2022 when his contract of service was terminated. He has filed this Petition to challenge the lawfulness of the decision to terminate his contract.
2.In the Petition, thepetitioner raises a number of issues which he submits point to the unlawfulness of the decision to terminate his contract of service. These include the following:-a.That his contract of employment was terminated in contravention of the procedural and substantive requirements stipulated in the law and Constitution.b.That the letter dated November 7, 2022by which the petitioner was sent on compulsory leave in effect terminated his contract of service.c.That in any event, the 1st respondent’s internal procedures did not provide for placement of the Petitioner on compulsory leave.d.That immediately thepetitioner was sent on compulsory leave, the 1st respondent hired someone else to replace him in acting capacity, a development that the Petitioner views as terminating his contract of service.e.That the letter of November 7, 2022sending the petitioner on compulsory leave did not: guarantee his right to salary during the duration of compulsory leave; and did not grant him the right of appeal, matters that the petitioner argues contravened the rules of natural justice.f.That therespondents did not furnish him with a copy of the investigation report which recommended disciplinary action against him for alleged gross misconduct.g.That the 1st respondent’s Governing Council did not notify the Petitioner of his right to be accompanied by a representative of his choice during the disciplinary hearing in contravention of the provisions in the Employment Act.h.That the 1st respondent issued the petitioner with a termination letter which did not disclose the reasons for the decision and which did not address the issues raised in the letter to show cause that had been issued to the Petitioner.i.That thepetitioner was denied the right to a fair hearing in contravention of the Constitution.j.That therespondents have declined to provide the Petitioner with information relating to the disciplinary process in contravention of his right to information.
3.The petitioner has prayed for various reliefs most of which seek for declaratory orders.
4.The respondents have filed a preliminary objection to the competence of the Petition. The foundation of the preliminary point of law is that the court has no jurisdiction to handle this action as a Constitutional Petition as the dispute between the parties is founded on an employer-employee relation.
5.The preliminary objection that is raised in this cause is on all fours with the objection taken in a related matter: ELRC Petition No. E 225 of 2023. But for the fact that the two cases are not consolidated, the circumstances informing the point of law in the two matters are similar. Therefore, this ruling is a replication of the ruling in ELRC Petition E 225 of 2023 in all material particulars.
6.The question whether the Employment and Labour Relations Court has jurisdiction to handle constitutional issues arising from employer-employee disputes is, in my view, now settled. The court has this jurisdiction.
7.This position is self evident from the court’s rules. Rule 7 (1) & (3) of the Employment and Labour Relations Court (Procedure) Rules, 2016provides as follows:-a.A party who wishes to institute a petition shall do so in accordance with the Constitution of Kenya (Protection of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Enforcement of the Constitution) Practice and Procedure Rules, 2012.b.Notwithstanding anything contained in this Rule, a party is at liberty to seek the enforcement of any constitutional rights and freedoms or any constitutional provision in a statement of claim or other suit filed before the court.
8.That these rules contemplate the filing of Constitutional Petitions before the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) is not in doubt. The only requirement is that whatever constitutional issue that the ELRC is called upon to address must have arisen in the context of an employment relation. The mere fact that the dispute in question stems from an employment relation is no reason to suggest that it cannot raise a constitutional issue that may require resolution through a Constitutional Petition.
9.That this is the position has been restated in a number of court decisions. In the case of Judicial Service Commission v Gladys Boss Shollei & another  eKLR, the three Judges of the Court of Appeal confirmed the fact that the ELRC has jurisdiction to entertain Constitutional Petitions arising from employment disputes so long as they raise a constitutional question related to the dispute for the court’s resolution.
10.Okwengu JA expressed herself on the issue as follows:-
11.G B M Kariuki JA stated as follows on the issue:-
12.Kiage JA expressed himself on the subject as follows:-
13.The totality of the foregoing leaves no doubt in my mind that the ELRC has jurisdiction to entertain Constitutional Petitions arising from employment disputes to the extent that they raise a constitutional question for determination. In this context, I hold that the preliminary objection by therespondents is without merit.
14.I note that the respondents have placed heavy reliance on the Court of Appeal decision in James Mukuha Gichane v National Hospital Insurance Fund & 3 others  eKLR in advancing their case on this issue. It is worth mentioning that this decision was made during and related to the old constitutional dispensation before labour rights were entrenched under article 41 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. In the circumstances and to the extent that labour disputes were entirely governed by private law at the time, the position by the court was sound. However, this cannot be said to be the obtaining position under the current constitutional dispensation.
15.That said, I think that the more pertinent question in the cause is whether the court should provide the petitioner with the constitutional remedies that he seeks notwithstanding that the issues raised by him are matters which can be resolved by reference to the various statutes on employment law in Kenya. Away from the question of jurisdiction as raised by the Respondents, this latter perspective of the dispute raises an entirely different constitutional issue: the application of the principle of constitutional avoidance.
16.By this principle, a court may decline to pronounce itself on a dispute that is before it from a constitutional viewpoint if the matter can be resolved by reference to some other regime of law. This is notwithstanding that the court is seized of jurisdiction to entertain the dispute.
17.This subject has been discussed in various court decisions. Indeed, some of the decisions are those relied on by the respondents in support of their preliminary objection. Mativo J (as he then was) aptly raises the subject in the case of KKB v SCM & 5 others (Constitutional Petition 014 of 2020)  KEHC 289 (KLR). The learned Judge expressed himself on the issue as follows:-
18.As the learned Judge indicates, the desire to avoid giving constitutional clothing to every dispute that arises for resolution informs the philosophy behind the principle of constitutional avoidance. If the dispute can be resolved in some other way without resorting to the Constitution, parties are strongly advised to follow that pathway. Otherwise, we run the risk of trivializing the Constitution. It is in this context that the court in Harrikson v Attorney General of Trinidad & Tobago (1980) AC 265 expressed itself as follows:-
20.I reiterate that the issue raised above is one of constitutional avoidance as opposed to jurisdiction. That is why the objection by the Respondents, in so far as it is premised on absence of jurisdiction must fail. That the question of avoidance is not one of jurisdiction is made clear in the decision of KKB v SCM & 5 others (Constitutional Petition 014 of 2020)  KEHC 289 (KLR) when the learned Judge observed as follows:-
21.I have considered the grievances in the Petition against the current regime on employment in Kenya. Prima facie, they fall within the purview and can be adequately addressed under the provisions of the Employment Act, 2007 and the Fair Administrative Action Act, 2015 both of which breathe life into the key articles of the Constitution that cover labour rights.
DATED, SIGNED AND DELIVERED ON THE 27TH DAY OF APRIL, 2023B. O. M. MANANIJUDGEIn the presence of:…………. for the Petitioner………………for the RespondentsORDERIn light of the directions issued on 12th July 2022 by her Ladyship, the Chief Justice with respect to online court proceedings, this decision has been delivered to the parties online with their consent, the parties having waived compliance with Rule 28 (3) of the ELRC Procedure Rules which requires that all judgments and rulings shall be dated, signed and delivered in the open court.B. O. M MANANI
22.The Respondents have asked me to strike out both the Petition and application for conservatory orders. However, I reckon that striking out of pleadings is a draconian step. It is usually resorted to as a measure of last resort to close pleadings that are considered so hopeless as to be beyond redemption through amendments (see SDV Transami (K) Limited v Steve Andrade  eKLR).
23.I will therefore be hesitant to strike out the current Petition. Although the court is entitled to decline pronouncing itself on the matter in its current form on account of the principles of constitutional avoidance and ripeness, it nevertheless has jurisdiction to hear it.
24.Whilst I will not strike out the Petition for want of jurisdiction as prayed by the Respondents, I hereby decline the invitation to hear the matter as currently presented. I decline the invite by the Petitioner to pronounce myself on the dispute as a Constitutional Petition in the face of the robust statutory framework on labour relations in Kenya. In my view, this framework, prima facie, provides the Petitioner with sufficient alternative avenues to litigate his claim.
25.As has been pointed out in some of the decisions that I have referred to, in order to invoke provisions of the Constitution in pursuit of a remedy in lieu of provisions of an ordinary statute that provides avenues for actualizing the remedy, a Petitioner ought to suggest, at least by his pleadings, that the statute is inadequate in some respect. I do not understand the pleadings by the Petitioner as suggesting that the current statutory framework on employment and labour in Kenya is incapable of sufficiently redressing his grievance in relation to the impugned dismissal. As such, this matter ought to have been filed as an ordinary Claim as opposed to a Constitutional Petition.
26.The Petitioner is at liberty to move the court as appropriate failing which this matter shall stand dismissed on account of the principle of avoidance upon the lapse of the 60th day from the date of this order.
27.There is no order as to costs.