Court declines to suspend new public gathering regulations approved by Cabinet

Court declines to suspend new public gathering regulations approved by Cabinet

The High Court has declined to temporarily stay the new security measures issued by the National Security Advisory Council (NSAC) and approved by the Cabinet to regulate public gatherings in a case filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).

Instead Justice Antony Murima directed that the respondents (the Attorney General and Inspector General of National Police Service) to file and serve responses together with written submissions by close of business Friday, October 16.

“In order to command an orderly conduct of the court business this court will abide by the orders of the court made on 13th of this month. I will therefore not consider the request for interim conservatory orders at this point in time,” Justice Antony Murima ruled.

The court noted that the matter was coming up for directions as directed by justice Weldon Korir.

“The order of the court was clear and that the matter was to be fixed before him for directions on the hearing. The court did not make any order for considerations for prayer 2, 3 and 4 of the application,” court noted.

Hearing of notice of motion has been slated for October 21.

Among the measures issued out last week is a requirement that leaders intending to hold a public gathering must notify the Officer Commanding Station (OCS) of such intent 3-14 days before gathering.

LSK moved to court on Monday seeking orders restraining the Inspector General of Police, acting by himself or agents under his command, from seeking to license or holding of public gatherings, meetings and processions, banning, disrupting or interfering with peaceful public gathering, meetings and processions of LSK.

The lawyers body argues that the directives made to restrict public gatherings do not create a dichotomy between excluded meetings and those meetings which require permission.

They want the court to determine whether the directives made by the National Security Advisory Committee on 7th October 2020 and ratified by the Cabinet on 8th October 20202 for the use of Section 5 of the Public Order Act Cap 56 of the Laws are “unlawful, unconstitutional and in violation of the constitution.”

Further they want the court to determine whether the directives have been used discriminatorily and selectively to suppress divergent opinions.