In a striking setback for Attorney-General Justin Muturi, the Senate resoundingly rejected his attempt to extend the life of 1,764 expired government regulations. Senators voted 33 to 2 in favor of the Committee on Delegated Legislation’s report, which denied the Attorney-General’s request for a one-year extension of the regulations. Consequently, over 400 Acts of Parliament have been deemed invalid.
Among the invalidated Acts of Parliament are the Terrorism Act, Births and Deaths Act, Advocates Act, Prisons Act, The Evidence Act, Parliamentary Pensions Act, and Public Roads Toll Act. Muturi had previously issued legal notice No. 217 of 2022, proposing the Statutory Instruments (Exemption from Expiry) Regulations and requesting Parliament to extend the regulations’ validity until January 24, 2024.
However, the committee, chaired by Tharaka-Nithi Senator Mwenda Gataya, dismissed Muturi’s request, labeling it unlawful and a misinterpretation of the procedure established by the Statutory Instruments Act. Consequently, the committee recommended that the legal notice be nullified. The committee’s report presented to the Senate maintained that the 1,764 regulations were revoked according to the law.
Senator Gataya pointed out that the Attorney-General lacked the authority to extend statutory instruments on behalf of Cabinet secretaries. Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana supported the rejection, emphasizing the gravity of extending such a substantial number of instruments and the necessity for comprehensive scrutiny in coordination with relevant regulation-making authorities.
Kenyan law dictates that regulations operationalize Acts of Parliament, with Cabinet secretaries designated as regulation-making authorities within their respective ministries by the Statutory Instruments Act. The Act’s Section 21 permits responsible Cabinet secretaries to extend statutory rules in consultation with the Delegated Committee of Parliament for a maximum of 12 months.
The committee noted that Muturi should have advised Cabinet secretaries to seek extensions themselves in accordance with the Act’s provisions. This would entail the affected secretaries republishing and submitting the regulations to the Senate for examination and adoption. Moreover, the committee highlighted the importance of scrutinizing the instruments to determine their relevance and ensure adequate justification and sound legal reasoning for extending their validity.
The committee’s report also expressed concern about the Cabinet secretaries’ delay in seeking extensions until the instruments automatically expired, given the Act’s clear provisions regarding automatic revocation.