A watchdog organisation is in court challenging the law on contempt of court, which it says limits powers of courts and shields public officers from harsh punishment.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission yesterday said the Contempt of Court Act of 2016 reverses gains made under the Constitution and should not be allowed to stand.
It said the law will allow public officers to openly disregard court directives, such as summons to appear in court.
The law imposes only Sh200,000 penalty, which is an insignificant amount and will not have the force of penal sanction in punishing contempt, the human rights agency says.
The commission said the law provides a fertile breeding ground for corruption and the genesis of a lawless society, where public servants will abuse power with impunity as they can afford to pay the meager fine.
The KHRC contends that the law waters down courts’ powers and renders them helpless and hapless in the face of defiance of orders.
The Judiciary has complained several times about disobedience of court orders by politicians.
The commission said if left to stand, the law will set a bad precedent.
“The Act takes this country back to the age, when public officers could openly compete with courts for power and defiance in total violation to the Constitution,” the suit paper by KHRC reads.
The agency said the law was put in place without public consultation, despite the fact that the Constitution puts a premium on public input.
The law was assented to in December.
According to the commission, it is retrogressive to the extent that it promotes impunity and arbitrariness in public governance and among public officers.
It says this violates Article 10 of the Constitution, which makes good governance a national value.
The KHRC wants the law declared inconsistent with the Constitution and nullified.