Blogger Robert Alai is off the hook after the High Court on Wednesday asked the Director of Public Prosecution to drop charges against him over an offensive post targeting President Uhuru Kenyatta three years ago.
In a verdict issued by Justice Enoch Chacha Mwita, the judge declared that a section of the law that stipulates undermining authority of a public officer as an offence is unconstitutional.
Justice Mwita ruled that section 132 of the criminal law is invalid and that the case has put to the spotlight the issue of criticizing a public officer as having been wrongly considered as an offense.
“A declaration is hereby issued that the continued enforcement of Section 132 of the Penal Code by the DPP against Mr Alai herein is unconstitutional and a violation of his fundamental right to freedom of expression,” Justice Mwita ruled.
The verdict was issued in a case in which the blogger had moved to the High Court to challenge the constitutionality of the offence of undermining the authority of a public officer, which he had been charged with before a magistrate court.
INSULT THE PRESIDENT
Mr Alai found himself in the wrong side of the law following his post on social media in 2014 using words that were considered as an insult to the President.
He had posted on his Twitter account that ‘insulting Raila is what Uhuru can do. He hasn’t realized the value of the Presidency. Adolescent President. This seat needs maturity.’
He therefore sued the Attorney General and the DPP while claiming that his rights had been violated when charges against him were preferred. A lobby called Article 19 was listed as an interested party in the case.
According to the judge, the impugned law undermines the provisions of the constitution that promotes advancement of social justice, enforcement of fundamental freedom and human rights.
He also said it limits the right to a fair trial hence any alleged discomfort can be deemed as less restrictive and a curtailment of fundamental rights.
“The people of Kenya gave themselves a constitution with a robust and progressive bill of rights, a provision such as section 132 of the Penal Code is too retrogressive to fit in a modern, open and democratic society. It is too wide in scope, punitive in intent and suppressive in effect,” said Justice Mwita.