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Housing Levy back on! Court temporarily suspends its earlier ruling

The Housing Levy matter takes a new twist after the court temporarily halted enforcement of its earlier decision in which it declared the Housing Levy as unconstitutional.

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The three-judge bench, consisting of High Court Justices David Majanja, Christine Meoli, and Lawrence Mugambi, has issued stay orders on their earlier ruling regarding the constitutionality the contentious Housing Levy.

The ruling, delivered in the morning on November 28, 2023, deemed the housing levy unconstitutional and barred the government from collecting the housing levy.

However, the 3-judge bench, in a ruling at 3:00 p.m., has now allowed the government to continue collecting the levy, and given the respondents more time to request conservatory orders against the ruling declaring the housing levy unconstitutional.

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"An order of stay is hereby issued, staying the orders of this judgement issued today November 28, 2023, pending the filing of a formal application for conservatory orders in the Court of Appeal and these orders of stay shall remain in force until January 10, 2024,” Justice David Majanja said.

Stay orders are often used to maintain the status quo while a court reviews the case or pending further legal action.

The initial ruling highlighted several issues with the housing levy, including its failure to meet constitutional requirements related to the rule of law and legal certainty.

The court raised concerns about the absence of a legal mechanism to anchor the levy, leaving uncertainties about how beneficiaries would be identified.

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Additionally, the judges noted the lack of a clear legal framework supporting the levy, describing it as opaque and not aligned with good governance principles.

Justice Majanja specifically pointed out that the housing levy appeared discriminatory against payroll workers, emphasizing the need for a rational explanation from the state on why it applied exclusively to the employed rather than a broader spectrum of citizens.

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Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna has advised Kenyans to exercise restraint in their reactions to the recent ruling by a three-judge bench on the constitutionality of the Finance Act, 2023, which included provisions on the controversial Housing Levy.

Senator Sifuna, while acknowledging the significance of the ruling, cautioned against premature celebrations.

"On Housing Levy, you should wait till the matter clears the entire hierarchy of the courts to celebrate. Mimi ndio nawashow," he emphasized.

The senator acknowledged the potential for legal processes and appeals to shape the final outcome of this contentious issue.

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