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Court of Appeal hands jailed auctioneer temporary reprieve

The Court of Appeal has granted temporary reprieve to an auctioneer who has been jailed for two years for demolishing a Nairobi couple’s house worth Sh70 million.

Suspending the sentencing of Zacharia Baraza for 45 days, appellate judges Daniel Musinga, Kathurima M’Inoti and Dr Immana Laibuta said he needs to be given time to challenge the jurisdiction of the Environment and Lands Court (ELC) to exercise supervisory duties over magistrates courts.

The judges said the question of jurisdiction is pertinent and should be determined first.

Baraza argued only the High Court can supervise subordinate courts.

Mr Baraza who is facing a robbery with violence case before the Milimani chief magistrates court was convicted for contempt by Justice Oscar Angote, the head of the ELC Court on November 25, 2022.

In his appeal, Baraza says he was not given an opportunity to be heard having raised an objection to the jurisdiction of ELC exercising supervisory duties over subordinate (magistrate) courts.

He says he was not cited for contempt and therefore he had nothing to say.

“The application by Baraza is by all standards fairly alarming as the respondents (Metro Pharmaceuticals Ltd) made serious allegations that the auctioneer had used forged or unlawful eviction orders from the magistrate’s court to demolish the residential house,” the court ruled.

Justice Angote called for the file from the magistrate’s courts where Baraza was charged to give fresh directions in the matter.

Baraza challenged the decision by Justice Angote saying the ELC division of the high court has no jurisdiction to exercise supervisory duties to subordinate courts.

The judges said Baraza has established he has an arguable appeal.

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