The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has lost prime property worth millions of shillings to tycoon Ashok Doshi for failing to prosecute a case it had filed in court 17 years ago.
The Environment and Land Court in Mombasa has ruled that the case against Supernova Properties Ltd could not be sustained due to lack of evidence.
Justice Sila Munyao noted that KPA did not serve the company, Commissioner of Lands and the Chief Land Registrar, who were sued in the land case, with the court documents for them to file a response to the suit in time.
“I must come to the conclusion that summons to enter appearance have never been served upon Supernova Properties Ltd. To call upon the company to defend a suit which has been idle in court for more than 15 years would be an injustice, it is hereby struck out,” said the judge.
The court further noted that there was no record of anything having happened in the file from the year 2005 to the year 2017 when the suit was listed for dismissal for want of prosecution.
The ruling has dealt a blow to the KPA in its efforts to recover the property worth millions of shillings, which also has an office block constructed on it.
KPA had sued the company in 2005 to recover the plot claiming ownership. The land Mombasa/Block XLVII/113 is among several plots in Mombasa that KPA wants to recover from private developers.
The ruling followed an application filed by the firm, in which it asked that the case against it be struck out for lack of service and for non-prosecution for more than 14 years.
It filed the case through its advocate Willis Oluga lamenting that it only became aware of the case in 2019 through an advertisement in the local dailies.
It, therefore, argued that the suit had abated and that it would be prejudiced should it be allowed to continue.
'It is now 14 years since this suit was filed, the validity of summons to enter appearance expired 13 years ago,” said Mr Oluga, adding that KPA showed no interest to prosecute the case for over 12 years.
The firm further argued it had lost all documents and evidence it required to defend itself and explain how it acquired the title.
“For instance, the original allottee of the land Jackson Suter, who sold the firm the land cannot be traced. Should the firm be called to file defence 16 years after the case was filed, it will face challenges defending itself properly due to attrition of evidence attributed to the lapse of time since the case was filed,” said the advocate.
KPA through its legal officer Stephen Kyandih insisted the firm had been informed of the case noting that it (KPA) has always been keen and interested in prosecuting the case.
The dispute stems from allegations that the land was registered in the name of the General Manager, East African Railways and Harbours Corporation, for and on its behalf
In 1978, the corporation was disbanded, and KPA was established as the successor in title and thus it took over the disputed property.