Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) managing director Daniel Kiptoo has been cleared of contempt of court charges after the High Court ruled that he was served with an order stopping new changes, after the agency had adjusted VAT on fuel prices.
Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah wanted Mr Kiptoo punished for ignoring a court order issued on June 30, suspending the implementation of the Finance Act, 2023.
The senator argued that Mr Kiptoo adjusted the prices by doubling the value-added tax (VAT) charged on the commodity, from 8 to 16 percent, against express court order.
A Bench of three judges of the High Court, however, said correspondences between Mr Omtatah and Mr Kiptoo showed that he was served with the court order, hours after making the adjustment in line with the Finance Act.
“It is clear that the contemnor was served hours later and there was no way to show that he was aware of the court order,” Justice Christine Meoli said in the ruling.
The senator had submitted that Epra hiked the prices of petroleum products in contemptuous defiance of the conservatory order, even after being served with the court order.
“To cure this absurdity and to avoid compromising the public interest in the rule of law and the authority of this Honourable Court, it is profoundly important that the Mr Daniel Kiptoo Bargoria is punished for contempt according to the law,” Mr Omtatah submitted.
The Busia Senator also said the authority, whose mandate is to regulate electrical energy, petroleum and related products, renewable energy, and other forms of energy, is an agency of the government, which is directly bound by the orders.
The judges, who included David Majanja and Lawrence Mugambi heard that Mr Kiptoo and the agency were not a party in the proceedings hence was not aware of the order blocking the VAT increase.
The judges said for one to be punished for contempt of court, it must be shown that his conduct was deliberate.