High Court declines to hear Rao’s application in Mumias Sugar case  

Mumias Sugar receiver manager

Former receiver manager of Mumias Sugar Company Ponangipalli Venkata Ramana Rao.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • High Court judge Justice Donna Chepkwony said his court had no jurisdiction to hear the application.
  • Justice Chepkwony agreed to give priority a petition seeking to have more than one judges to listen to the Mumias Sugar issue.

Ponangipalli Ramana Rao, the former administrator of Mumias Sugar Company, on Friday suffered a major blow after High Court judge Justice Donna Chepkwony declined to hear application seeking to reverse order that stopped it from managing the sugar miller. 

Justice Chepkwony said his court had no jurisdiction to hear the application and instead directed Rao’s lawyers to move to the Court of Appeal to challenge the order issued by High Court judge Justice Alfred Mabeya on April 14, 2022. 

In the April ruling, Justice Mabeya revoked the appointment of Ramana Rao as the administrator and receiver manager of the sugar miller over non-compliance with terms of the job.

The judge further appointed Kereto Marima to be the new administrator of the company and directed Rao to hand over within seven days.

Unhindered control

“Mr Ponangipalli Venkata Ramana Rao to formerly and in an orderly manner hand over to Kereto Marima the full and unhindered control and administration of Mumias within 7 days of the date hereof.

“Mr Panangipalli Venkata Remana Rao, as receiver manager appointed by KCB to cooperate with Kereto Marima and ensure the smooth administration of Mumias. In default the receivership shall stand suspended during the duration of the administration,” Justice Mabeya stated in his ruling.

Justice Chepkwony, however, agreed to give priority a petition seeking to have more than one judges to listen to the Mumias Sugar issue.

In the case, creditor Jackline Kimeto is accusing Sarrai Group of starting to run Mumias despite court orders issued by Justice Mabeya canceling the 20-year lease granted to it by KCB Bank receiver manager Ramana Rao.

Cease operations

The petition will be mentioned on February 2, 2023 to confirm compliance and highlight submissions. 

The firm is accused of carrying out operations at the Mumias Sugar company despite the existence of a court order directing the company managers and its staff to cease operations.

The petitioner is accusing Sarrai Group of operating in Mumias under the protection of local politicians. 

“I am aware that the contemnors have opted to hide behind inflammatory pronouncements of politicians in the hope that they will protect them,” the advocate said in the court document. 

Nullified lease

Justice Wilfrida Okwany had also on July 28 directed Rai Cement personnel, an affiliate of the Sarrai Group, to keep off Mumias Sugar premises until the case filed is heard and determined. 

“Pending the hearing and determination of this application, Sarrai Group Limited, its directors, agents, employees, servants, subsidiaries and other affiliates including Mumias Sugar (2021) Limited, Rai Cement Limited be ordered to cease and desist any activity and all activities including the operation of machinery, dismantling, vandalism of machinery, removal of assets, or any other activity of whatever nature stored and situated within the premises of Mumias Sugar Limited,” Justice Okwany ruled. 

It is during the same period that the court nullified the lease awarded to the Sarrai group in December. 

The court also ordered the company to return all the assets belonging to Mumias Sugar Company and directed police in Mumias to facilitate it.

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