Patiala Distillers sues KEBS for illegally suspending their liquor permits

Patiala Distillers Ltd advocate Danstan Omari. PHOTO/Suek

Patiala Distillers (K) Limited has sued the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) for illegally suspending three of their permits.

The liquor manufacture wants the court to quash the said decision to suspend their Standardization Mark Permit numbers 26666, 27247 and 27253 vide a letter referenced as KEBS/HQ/SM/2411/VOL 2(233), and dated 27th February 2024.

Through lawyer Danstan Omari, the applicants further want the court to issue an order of prohibition restraining the respondents by themselves, their agents or anyone else under their instructions from engaging in any manner of disruption or obstruction of their operations under the guise of effecting the enforcement of KEBS suspension as communicated in the said letter.

In clips going round on social media, Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga and Mathira MP Eric Wamumbi are seen leading a bunch of locals to destroy some of Patiala’s products which had been confiscated by police.

The products were confiscated from their Nyeri distributor on grounds that they were not fit for human consumption.

According to court documents, it is appalling and unreasonable that the suspension notice was effective immediately.

Patiala maintains that the action by KEBS is unreasonable as it fails to appreciate that the applicant is aiding the country and the government in its efforts to eradicate poverty.

“The same did not consider the plight of many Kenyans who rely on the applicant to feed and sustain themselves and their families,” Omari said.

Omari stated that the company has employed hundreds of Kenyans and pays over Sh 1.4 billion to the taxman every year.

“The applicant is a source of daily needs for many Kenyans that the business has employed and this Honorable Court is hereby called upon to certify this application as urgent and opt for hearing,” Omari said.

In an affidavit sworn by Patiala Distillers proprietor Mary Waigwe Muthoni, the suspension wreaks of malice, bad faith and lawlessness as there has never at any time been any show cause letters nor summons to the owners of the business from any investigative agency within the Republic of Kenya to aid in any form of investigations into any alleged violations of The Standards Act, the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act or any other statute in relation to the alcohol in question and rules made thereunder.

“The applicant believes that the 1st respondent’s actions are an obvious scheme to unjustifiably frustrate and obstruct the applicant’s operations of a genuine business since there was no prior notice nor warning that could have assisted the applicant to act in order to avert the suspension: a bid to frustrate the applicant’s right to fair administrative action,” Muthoni said.

Apart from KEBS, other respondents in the matter are CEO-National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the Commissioner General-Kenya Revenue Authority, the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General.

The court heard that the action should have been carried out with due consideration of the role of the applicant as a large taxpayer who reserves resources to aid needy families throughout the country.

“It loses sense and rationality when such an action is done haphazardly without following due processes enacted by the law. Nothing prevented the respondent to summon nor warn the applicant of any suspected violations of laid down regulations,” the advocate said.

He added, “the law is a shield to the applicant and when the same law is broken by the government agencies, it raises many unanswered issues with how the law should be enforced.”

The products whose permits were suspended with immediate effect are Diamond Ice, Flying Horse gin and Flying Horse Vodka.

The manufacturers maintains that it has always produced quality products for its consumers.

“Unless this honorable court moves with celerity and arrests the illegalities and injustices occasioned by the 1st Respondent (KEBS) the applicant shall suffer irreparable harm and shall be a slap in the face of economic rights under Article 43 of the Constitution,” Omari told the court.