Catholic bishops will now have to pay a city restaurant Sh13 million for abruptly stopping a six-year business deal to rent space at Waumini House in Westlands, Nairobi.
Supreme Court judge Isaac Lenaola ruled that the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) refused to allow Al Yusra restaurant to carry on with its business on discriminatory grounds.
In his ruling which was delivered at the High Court by Justice John Mativo yesterday, the judge pointed out that Catholic Bishops will pay the restaurant Sh10 million as compensation for refurbishing the site of the disputed premise.
The judge also said that the remaining Sh3 million will be compensation for the mere fact that they were shown the door on discriminatory reasons which he also declared as unlawful.
“This case has brought to the fore the century old conflict between religions yet the issue would have simply rested as a tenancy dispute which however morphed because of underlying issues of violation of the right to equal treatment even as the relationship broke down,” said Justice Lenaola.
Al Yusra had gone to court three years ago to protest the fact that their rented premise, which was then on the ground floor of the Waumini House, was locked up and that they were denied access into it as tenants.
The building, which is the headquarters of the Kenya Catholic Bishops Secretariat, is owned and managed by the Catholic Church in Kenya.
The restaurant told court that Catholic bishops had locked them out on a mere explanations that it could not accept a business owned and operated by Somali Muslims on its property.
All the necessary refurbishing had been completed at a cost of Sh17, 953,325 and the restaurant was to be opened.
They argued that it was discriminatory hence sought for Sh88, 472,782.22 compensation in the suit also filed against Knight Frank besides the bishops.
But the bishops told court that it is Knight Frank who acted as their agents that had the restaurant owners chased away.
According to the judge, the actions had resulted to physical and mental pain on the restaurant owners hence deserved to be compensated.
Despite the fact that the Bishops complained to the court that they had consequently suffered losses of Sh4, 954,437 as a result of the row, the judge dismissed this claim.
“I have found that the Catholic bishops discriminated against Al Yusra on grounds of ethnicity and religion, I have thus awarded them special damages for loss incurred in refurbishment and renovations of the suit property,” he ruled.