Chiefs told to be Impartial and truthful so as to help Courts

The Judiciary is calling on chiefs to be truthful in their reporting systems so that the information they documented can be relied on by the courts in clearing succession cases.

Addressing a Court Users training at a Naivasha hotel over the weekend, Justice David Majanja singled chiefs as a very important cog in the dispensation of justice system.

Chiefs are very important people on the ground whose word and information always guided the courts with a view of dispensing justice,’ said Justice Majanja.

According to records from the Kiambu law courts, over 90 per cent of all the cases emanated from land disputes and it is only accurate information from a third party who was the area chief that could help give justice to the conflicting parties.

The Judge explained that in most succession cases, there was a possibility that the aggrieved party failed to furnish the court with vital information that would go a long way in delivering a fair and timely judgement.

As a result of such gaps, the information documented by chiefs played an important role in helping dispense off the cases.

It is therefore important that chiefs are truthful, reliable as they had been entrusted with providing important information of the people who lived within their jurisdictions, Justice Majanja said.

He further reiterated that it was the duty of the administrative officer to protect the estate of the deceased under section 46 of the law of succession Act.

Deceased person’s property should not be touched or disposed of without permission from the courts, he said. Administrative officers should not facilitate sale or disposal of the deceased person’s property. It is an offence and the sale is null and void, Justice Majanja said.

Administrative officers should therefore be familiar with the law of succession and their responsibilities. Chief’s letters should contain all relevant information, that is , all heirs including all wives and children, daughters whether married or not , deceased on not, he clarified.

The Judicial officer cited inter-meddling as a challenge that derailed justice.

He said Any person who contravened section 45 shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding 10,000 shillings or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or both.

While writing letters to the court, Justice Majanja clarified that they must be addressed to the respective court dealing with the succession case and not to whom it may concern.

He said such letters should set out the names of the deceased, confirm if they were residents of the locality, their wives or husbands whether dead or alive and all children.

This information was relied on when the court was arbitrating in succession cases therefore making its work easy and as such being able to clear many cases within the shortest time, he said.

The Kiambu Chief Magistrate Patriciah Gichohi on her part called on the chiefs to be impartial when dealing with families who had lost their kin as this would help address succession cases without necessarily going to court.

It is your duty to document all the information that you know and not to be influenced to disinherit anyone since if you are found, it will not go well with you she said.

She also called on the other court users to harmonize their teamwork spirit so that they were able to fill in gaps.

She added that such gaps could easily be addressed by relevant parties so that whenever the said cases were presented in court, the determination was not derailed.

Source: Kenya News Agency