Kenya: Sarrai Group Held in Contempt of Court in Mumias Suit
Kakamega — Uganda-based Sarrai Group Limited, Sarbjit Singh Rai, Rakesh Kumar and Stephen Kihumba were Friday found to be in contempt of court orders issued on July 28, 2022 regarding Mumias Sugar lease case.
While delivering the ruling, High Court judge Justice Donna Chepkwony ordered the accused to pay Sh100, 000 or serve six months in jail.
“Sarbjit Singh Rai, Rakesh Kumar and Stephen Kihumba must appear before the presiding judge on 18th May, 2023 to show cause why they should not be committed to civil jail for six (6) months,” the judge ruled.
The judge, however, dismissed an application by the petitioner, Wekesa and Simiyu Advocates, seeking to have the Chief Justice constitute a three-judge bench to hear the matter saying one-judge bench was enough.
In the July ruling, High Court in Nairobi directed Sarrai Group to stop further operations at Mumias Sugar Company.
The court also directed Rai Cement, an affiliate of the Sarrai Group, to withdraw personnel deployed at Mumias’ premises until the case lodged in court on Thursday, July 28, 2023 is heard and determined.
“Pending the hearing and determination of this application, Sarrai Group Limited, its directors, agents, employees, servants, subsidiaries and other affiliates including Mumias Sugar (2021) Limited, Rai Cement Limited be ordered to cease and desist any activity and all activities including the operation of machinery, dismantling, vandalism of machinery, removal of assets, or any other activity of whatever nature stored and situated within the premises of Mumias Sugar Limited,” Justice Wilfrida Okwany ruled.
The court further upheld its judgement issued on April 14, 2022, that nullified lease a granted to Sarrai Group on December 22, 2021.
“This court issue order restraining Sarrai Group from and its aforementioned agents or any other agents from commencing, continuing, or undertaking any activity under the lease dated 22nd December, 2021,” the judge stated.
The court also ordered the company to return all the assets belonging to Mumias Sugar Company and directed police in Mumias to facilitate the execution of the directive.
“The Officer Commanding Mumias Sugar Police Station be and is hereby ordered to facilitate the safe return of all vandalized and looted assets of Mumias Sugar in accordance with these orders,” the judge added.
During the hearing, creditors Khaminwa and Khaminwa Advocates and lawyer Jackline Chepkemoi Kimeto, accused Sarrai Group of not obeying the court order that stopped it from operating the Kakamega-based sugar mill.
“The continuing contempt of the court orders by the contemnors scandalizes and lowers the judicial authority and the dignity of the court.
“It is essential for the maintenance of the rule of law and order that the authority and the dignity of the Courts of the Republic of Kenya is upheld at all times and the contemnors blatant disobedience of the orders of the court ought not to be countenanced,” Kimeto said while making her submissions.
During the hearing, the creditors presented photographic evidence that showed Sarrai Group personnel transporting equipment belonging to Mumias Sugar Company.
The photos presented also showed vandalized equipment, which the lawyer noted was wasting away.