KENYA – United Millers’, a milling company in Kenya, bid to halt a court decision to destroy 30,000 bags of sugar earlier declared by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) as unfit for human consumption in 2018 has proved futile.
The case was dismissed by the High Court and later by the Court of Appeal, but the company, still determined to overturn the decision, moved to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court snubbed the case, saying there is nothing on the interpretation of the constitution to be determined.
KEBS had sent a communication to United Millers that its sugar had failed the yeast and mold test and could not be released for sale hence marked for destruction.
The company through its director Kamal Narshi Shah filed an application to quell the decision, arguing that it was unreasonable, arbitrary and a flouting of its right to fair administrative action.
Shah said the company was granted a license to import sugar from Mauritius pursuant to the requirements of the Agriculture and Food Authority, Sugar Directorate on July 11, 2017.
The company said it imported 997.7 tonnes of brown sugar, having complied with all import procedures and requirements.
It said it obtained a Certificate of Conformity from South Africa, but KEBS ordered the seizure of the commodity and later mandated its destruction.
However, Supreme Court judges dismissed the appeal filed by the company, saying the court did not have jurisdiction.
“We emphasized that where there exists an alternative method of dispute resolution established by legislation, the courts must exercise restraint in exercising their jurisdiction conferred by the Constitution and must give deference to the dispute resolution bodies established by statutes with the mandate to deal with such specific disputes in the first instance,” the judges held.
The Supreme Court further noted that while issues of constitutional interpretation and application were raised in the application for judicial review before the High Court, they were thwarted when the initial objection was sustained by Justice John Mativo.
Mativo had noted that all dispute resolution mechanisms available were not exhausted before the matter was filed in court.
KEBS opposed the case, disclosing the company was assuming that the sugar could be released for consumption yet during the hearing of the case, its standard and quality had deteriorated making it unsuitable for consumption.