Rulings that supported equal right to property

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Eight years ago, Lady Justice Mary Kasango ruled that married daughters had a right to inherit their parents’ property.

The judge made the ruling in a succession case where Consolata Ntibuka challenged her brother’s decision to evict her from land left behind by her father on the grounds that she was married.

“It does not matter whether a daughter of the deceased was married or not when considering whether she is entitled to inherit her parent’s estate,” held the judge in a decision that was rendered first under the new constitution.

In 2005, Lady Justice Martha Koome reaffirmed provisions of the Law of Succession Act that daughters, just like sons, have an equal right to inherit their parents’ property.

“The law does not distinguish the deceased’s children on the basis of their gender or marital status,” Justice Koome said.

Similarly, former Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal made a decision that affirmed daughters’ right to their father’s wealth.

In her decision, Justice Rawal dismissed the application of a Maasai custom that allegedly blocked daughters from inheriting family property.

DIED WITHOUT WILL

The case involved daughters of the late Maasai tycoon Lerionka Ole Ntutu, who died without leaving a will on distribution of his estate.

In their suit papers, the daughters complained of plans by their brothers to exclude them from inheriting their father’s property on the strength of custom.

After hearing both sides in the case, Justice Rawal held that the custom shouldn’t be applied at all.

“Any tenet of customary law, which would abrogate the right of daughters to inherit the estate of a father, cannot be applied,” Justice Rawal ruled.

Appeal Court, too, was not left behind when it comes to pronouncing itself on the issue of whether a married daughter should be allowed to inherit her father’s property.

For example, judge Philip Waki made a ruling in which he strongly indicated that customs that lock daughters out of succession have no place in today’s society.

In a case that pitted Rono versus Rono, Justice Waki held that marriage should never be a ground for locking daughters out.

“Arguments that daughters would get married are not a determining factor on distribution of the net estate of a deceased,” Justice Waki ordered.

Justice Waki said courts had a duty to exercise discretion judiciously when it came to distributing estates in dispute.



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