Judge rules Land Disputes Tribunals have no mandate


By Evelyn Kwamboka

The High Court has declared Land Disputes Tribunals illegal.

Justice Weldon Korir on Wednesday said the law that created the tribunals has since been repealed.

"This court has held in many cases that Land Disputes Tribunals have no powers to hear disputes touching on ownership of land," the judge said.

He said this in a case in which a woman wanted the court to compel the tribunal to hear and determine a matter in which she wants a 90-year-old man to give her part of his land.

Ms Pricillah Wangari Kiongo, who is one of the administrators of Mr Mungai Kiongo Kaburu’s estate, wanted Mr Mungai Muhoho to subdivide 1.5 acres of land from the original tract of land.

She advanced the reason that Kaburu, who bought the land, died before subdivision of the land in Kiambaa took place.

In 2004, with the help of the lands surveyor, Muhoho subdivided 0.195 hectares instead of 1.5 acres and allocated it to the estate.

Challenge decision

The woman moved to court to challenge the decision in 2005 but High Court judge Mary Ang’awa ruled that Muhoho had given her an eighth of the land he sold to Kaburu.

She added that the woman had no further claim against Muhoho, adding that Pricillah was trying to get another eighth of an acre from the defendant’s piece of land and this could not be accepted.

Aggrieved by the decision, the woman and Mr Fredrick Mbugua proceeded to the tribunal where they filed a claim, seeking to be given the eighth registered in Muhoho’s name as the absolute owner.

Justice Korir was told that former Kiambu DC J Wango wrote to the tribunal in December 2009, asking it to terminate the case.

The DC indicated in his letter that the matter had already been heard and determined by Lady Justice Ang’awa.

The woman then moved to the High Court’s Judicial Review Division, saying the DC’s directive to the tribunal to terminate the matter was unlawful.

Boundary matter

She argued that the matter before the tribunal touched on a boundary issue, which it had powers to handle.

Muhoho asked the court to dismiss the case on grounds that the Act of Parliament which created the tribunal had been repealed.

He also told Justice Korir that there was no Land Disputes Tribunal in Kiambu County for him to issue the order to.

On Wednesday the court said it was clear that the tribunal acted upon the DC’s letter and terminated the case, which had also been dealt with by Justice Ang’awa.

He said the matter touched on land ownership and the tribunal had no powers to hear such a dispute.

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