It is a relief for auctioneer Zachariah Baraza after the Court of Appeal suspended a decision by the Environment and Land Court to convict him for contempt of court.
Baraza, who works for Siuma Auctioneers was to serve two years in jail or pay a Sh 2 million fine after being found guilty of forcefully evicting a family in Westlands, Nairobi, without a valid court order.
Justice Daniel Musinga, Kathurima M’inoti and Imaana Laibuta suspended the decision pending filing of the substantive appeal.
“Accordingly, we direct that there shall be an order of stay of proceedings for a period of 45 days from the date of this ruling. Within that period, the applicants must file and serve the record of appeal for fast-tracked hearing of the appeal,” ruled the Judge’s.
The court noted that the auctioneer was on the brink of being sentenced to two years imprisonment or to a fine of two million shillings on the basis of a process that is impugned in the intended appeal . “A served jail term cannot be undone.”
However, the judges added that an order under the said rule is discretionary and is intended to meet the ends of Justice.
“We already have advertised the intended appeal. In the circumstances, we shall issue only a conditional order of stay of proceedings so as to ensure that the intended appeal is heard and determined expeditiously and without delay,” said judges.
The judges said they were persuaded that the intended appeal is arguable.
Baraza argues that the Environment and Land Court has no supervisory jurisdiction over subordinate courts. This is because the orders he is accused of disobeying originated from the Magistrate’s court.
He also questions whether in the circumstances of this case, the ELC could exercise contempt of court jurisdiction and whether he was afforded a fair hearing before he was adjudged in contempt of court