The High Court has suspended a decision that quashed the appointment of Bernard Njiraini as chief executive officer of the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the board of the National Standards Council (NSC).
Justice Jacob Gakeri ruled that Mr Njiraini whose appointment was quashed last week and that of the board of the NSC including its chairman Bernard Ngore should remain in office, pending the determination of an appeal they have filed.
Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina has named Esther Ngari as the acting managing director of Kebs.
The agency argued that the judgment by Employment and Labour Relations judge Maureen Onyango had completely immobilised Kebs, putting Kenyans at risk because of lack of a board to standardise and regulate the quality of products, to be consumed in the country.
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Lawyer Titus Koceyo argued that the board of directors or the standards council is required to set standards to approve, certify and permit all manufactured, imported goods and local produce to ensure that the products meet set standards.
“This is a daily duty and obligations carried out by the council. …there is no institution to undertake the roles thus impeding the production, manufacturing and business community in the country which by didn’t of the court decision of 25th May 2022 the economic output of the country has been brought to a screeching halt,” he said.
The lawyer said if not suspended, the decision would create a monumental risk as to the safety of products consumed locally and the court did not consider public interest the board was serving.
Justice Onyango quashed Mr Njiraini’s appointment and that of the NSC board stating that any appointments in a state organ or corporation or public officer that do not comply with the requirements are illegal.
“The respondents do not deny that the 5th to 13th respondents were handpicked by the 1st respondent,” she said adding that the PS industrialization Francis Owino admitted that the appointments were not competitive.
“I find that the said appointments violated the provisions of Articles 10 and 232 of the constitution,” she said.
On Mr Njiraini, the court noted that the three people who scored the highest and whose names were submitted to the CS were Geoffrey Karau Muriira, Nixon Sigey and Martin Chesire. She said the CS should have explained why the best candidate was not picked.
The ousted board argued that there is no institution at the moment, which is currently safeguarding the quality of products consumed locally, exposing the public to immense health and safety risks.
The board members included Mary Wanja Matu, Helen Kabeti, Fouzia Abdirahman, Patrick Musiu, Edward Njoroge, Eric Mungai, Gilbert Lang’at and Rogers Ochako.
“The appellants have a strong Appeal at the Court of Appeal and the appeal will be rendered nugatory unless the proceedings and judgement are stayed for it will embarrass the court and judicial process if the appeal in the Court of Appeal succeeds but the damage to the public arising out of the decision, would have occurred irreparably,” Mr Koceyo said.