Sonko petition against Supreme Court dismissed

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko suffered a setback after the High Court struck out a petition he filed against the Supreme Court alleging violation of his political rights.

Justice Olga Sewe, sitting in Mombasa, ruled that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the petition.

“I take the view that since this petition sounds more of judicial review than in violation of the constitutional right to (a) fair hearing, it is a matter that falls outside the mandate of the court by dint of Article 165(6) of the constitution,” Justice Sewe said. 

In his petition, Mr Sonko had wanted, among others, a declaration that his case at the Supreme Court where he was challenging his impeachment as Nairobi governor, be heard afresh.

The judge noted that one of the reliefs sought was a declaration that the judgment of the Supreme Court in a petition where Mr Sonko was challenging his impeachment was null and void. 

Justice Sewe said that she found merit in the preliminary objection to the petition by the Supreme Court thus upholding it (the objection) and striking out the petition. 

She said that courts must be vigilant and determine what the predominant issue is and proceed to avoid any absurdity considering that there are instances where the constitution limits the jurisdiction of the court to entertain certain remedies against some parties. 

“I have in mind Article 165 (6) which limits the supervisory jurisdiction of the High Court to subordinate courts as opposed to the superior courts,” said Justice Sewe.

Mr Sonko had argued that the Supreme Court, as an organ of the State, can be challenged if it violates the constitutional rights of a person in its decisions and that it can sue and be sued.

Through lawyers John Khaminwa and Derrick Odhiambo, Mr Sonko argued that the High Court had jurisdiction to fault any court for violation of rights thus it is mandated to uphold them (rights).

Dr Khaminwa argued that the High Court has the power to question decisions if the violation of rights was committed by a superior court above it.

The petitioner argued that it was not in dispute that the Supreme Court is a superior court, however, the constitution grants the High Court original unlimited jurisdiction to determine whether a right or fundamental freedom has been infringed by an individual or State organ.

On its part, the Supreme Court wanted the petition by Mr Sonko dismissed saying the High Court had no jurisdiction to hear it.

It argued that the jurisdiction of the High Court was erroneously invoked thus the petition was not properly before it (High Court) and that the court ought to “down its tools”.

Through Senior Counsel Charles Kanjama, the apex court in the country said that the High Court ought to resist Mr Sonko’s attempt to revive and litigate matters it (Supreme Court) conclusively dealt with and determined.

Mr Kanjama told the court that there was no authority existing in the country where a decision of the Supreme Court has been successfully challenged in a lower court based on the Bill of Rights.

Mr Sonko also wanted declarations that his rights to a fair trial were infringed on in his petition at the Supreme Court and that his political rights were violated by the failure to accord him a fair hearing.

He also wanted Sh35 million awarded to him as compensation for the loss of campaign fund contribution and an award of damages amounting to Sh15 million for breach of the right to be heard as well as his political rights.