CJ Martha Koome appoints 3-judge bench to hear housing levy case

Chief Justice Martha Koome has appointed a three-judge bench to adjudicate several cases challenging the implementation of the new Affordable Housing Act.

Justices Olga Sewe, John Chigiti, and Josephine Mongare have been assigned by the CJ to preside over the six petitions, which have been consolidated.

Among the petitioners is a group of 22 Senators led by Okiya Omtatah from Busia.

The senators, along with seven other human rights defenders, have raised concerns regarding specific provisions of the new Act. They are particularly opposed to a section that designates the Commissioner General of KRA as the collector of the affordable housing levy, as well as sections 4 and 5 of the Act, which impose the levy.

The petitioners argue that the Commissioner-General of the Kenya Revenue Authority cannot serve as the collector of the Affordable Housing Levy, as his duties are solely confined to the operations of the Authority.

“The Commissioner General is not the KRA. It is the Authority, not its Commissioner-General, that, under Section 5 of the KRA Act, is given the mandate to collect and account for revenues by specified laws,” reads the documents.

On March 19, President William Ruto enacted the Affordable Housing Bill 2023 into law, thereby reinstating the controversial housing levy deductions.

The new legislation extends the regulations to cover workers in the informal sector, aligning with a High Court ruling that declared it unconstitutional last year.

According to the new law, Kenyans will now have 1.5% of their gross monthly pay deducted.

The petitioners have approached the court, seeking to annul the imposition of the Affordable Housing Levy at a rate of 1.5%, as outlined in the Affordable Housing Act of 2024.

They also request an order suspending Section 2(1) of the Affordable Housing Act, 2024, particularly insofar as it designates the Commissioner General of the KRA as the collector of the affordable housing levy. Additionally, they seek to challenge sections 4 and 5 of the Act, which impose the levy.

Omtatah also seeks to restrain the National Assembly and 11 other parties from further implementing section 60 of the Affordable Housing Act, 2024, to the extent that it aims to retroactively address matters previously deemed unconstitutional by the High Court.

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