CHAPTER 24
INQUESTS ACT

[PRINCIPAL LEGISLATION]

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

   Section

Title

PART I
PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS

   1.   Short title.

   2.   Interpretation.

PART II
CORONERS' COURTS

   3.   Establishment of Coroners' Courts.

   4.   Functions of Coroners' Courts.

   5.   Qualifications and appointment of Coroners.

PART III
POWERS AND DUTIES OF CORONERS

   6.   When inquest may be held.

   7.   Power to dispense with inquest in certain cases.

   8.   Postponement and adjournment of inquests in certain cases.

   9.   Power to order exhumation.

   10.   Coroner may direct postmortem examination.

   11.   Medical practitioner to make an examination and a report thereof.

PART IV
HOLDING OF INQUESTS

   12.   Notice of death.

   13.   Preliminary examination of body.

   14.   Inquest into sudden or violent death.

   15.   Executions and deaths in prison, etc.

   16.   Inquest where body destroyed or irrecoverable.

   17.   Coroner may call for statements recorded by police officers.

   18.   Power of D.P.P. to order inquest.

PART V
PROCEDURE AT INQUEST

   19.   The inquisition.

   20.   Provisions regarding the viewing of the body.

   21.   Coroner may summon witnesses.

   22.   Coroner not bound by rules of evidence.

   23.   Examination of witnesses.

   24.   Recording of evidence.

   25.   Statements recorded by police officers may be admitted as evidence at inquest.

   26.   Inquests on Sundays, etc., or in private.

   27.   Adjournment of inquest.

   28.   Conclusion of an inquest.

   29.   Return of inquisitions.

   30.   Powers of the High Court.

PART VI
MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

   31.   Powers of Coroner to order burial or cremation.

   32.   Penalty where body is buried without authority.

   33.   Obstructing medical practitioner, etc.

   34.   Power to make regulations.

   35.   Prescribed forms.

   36.   [Repeal of R.L. Cap. 24.]

SCHEDULE

CHAPTER 24
THE INQUESTS ACT

An Act to establish Coroners Courts and to provide for matters relating to inquests.

[1st July, 1980]
[G.N. No. 70 of 1980]

Act No. 17 of 1980

PART I
PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS (ss 1-2)

1.   Short title

   This Act may be cited as the Inquests Act.

2.   Interpretation

   In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires–

   "appropriate authority" means the person appointed by the Minister to be the appropriate authority for the purposes of this Act;

   "Coroner" means any person empowered or appointed under section 5 to hold inquest under this Act;

   "hospital" means any institution for the reception and medical treatment of persons who are injured, infirm or suffering from illness, and includes a dispensary, health centre, maternity home, clinic (whether mobile or not) and also any place or premises used for purposes of medical treatment, whether regularly or periodically;

   "inquest" means any inquiry held by a Coroner under this Act into the death of any person;

   "local authority" means a City Council, a Municipal Council, a Town Council or a District Development Council;

   "medical practitioner" means a person for the time being authorised to practise the medical profession by virtue of his being registered or licensed under the provisions of the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act *, and includes any person for the time being in charge of a hospital;

   "Minister" means the Minister for the time being responsible for legal matters;

   "official custody" means detention–

   (a)   in the custody of a police officer, a prisons officer, an officer of the Prevention of Corruption Bureau or any officer authorised to carry out any function under the Preventive Detention Act *;

   (b)   in any reformatory school or remand home under the management, control or administration of the Commissioner for Social Welfare in consequence of any detention or committal order; or

   (c)   in a mental hospital under section 9 of the Mental Diseases Act * or section 168 of the Criminal Procedure Act * any other written law;

   "Principal Judge" means a Judge of the High Court of Tanzania, appointed under Article 109 of the Constitution of the United Republic *.

PART II
CORONERS' COURTS (ss 3-5)

3.   Establishment of Coroners' Courts

   (1) The Minister may, after consultation with the Principal Judge, by order published in the Gazette, establish a Coroner's Court in respect of the area of jurisdiction of every local authority specified in the order.

   (2) The Minister may establish one or more Coroners' Courts in respect of one local authority, and may establish one Coroner's Court in respect of more than one local authority.

   (3) Where a Coroner's Court is established in one area but not in others, inquests in the latter areas shall be conducted by a District or Resident Magistrate.

4.   Functions of Coroners' Courts

   (1) The function of a Coroner's Court shall be to inquire into the death of any person who–

   (a)   is reasonably suspected to have died violently or of unnatural causes;

   (b)   dies a sudden death the cause of which is unknown;

   (c)   dies while in official custody, or in consequence of the execution of a sentence passed on him;

   (d)   dies or is found dead in such place and in such circumstances as to require an inquest in pursuance of the provisions of any written law.

   (2) A Coroner's Court shall not hear or inquire into any matter or proceeding arising otherwise than under this Act.

5.   Qualifications and appointment of Coroners

   (1) The Minister may by notice published in the Gazette, from time to time, prescribe the qualifications of persons who may be appointed as Coroners for the purposes of this Act.

   (2) The Principal Judge shall after consultation with an appropriate authority, by notice published in the Gazette, appoint, in respect of a local authority, such number of public officers or retired public officers as he thinks fit, and who are qualified in accordance with the provisions of the notice under subsection (1), each to be a Coroner in respect of the area of the jurisdiction of the local authority specified in the notice.

   (3) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), the Principal Judge may, after consultation with the Chief Justice, by notice in the Gazette, appoint any one magistrate to be a Coroner in respect of one local authority specified in the Notice.

PART III
POWERS AND DUTIES OF CORONERS (ss 6-11)

6.   When inquest may be held

   (1) Where a Coroner, upon information received, is satisfied that there is a body of a deceased person lying within his jurisdiction, and that there is reasonable cause to suspect that the circumstances of the death of that person make the holding of an inquest necessary or desirable, that Coroner shall, subject to the provision of this Act, hold an inquest on the body as soon as is practicable.

   (2) Where, in the opinion of the appropriate authority, the circumstances of the death of any person, which are not known to the Coroner for the jurisdiction concerned, require to be inquired into, the appropriate authority may, in writing, require the Coroner to hold an inquest on the body of the deceased person in question, and the Coroner shall, subject to section 7, hold the inquest.

7.   Power to dispense with inquest in certain cases

   If it appears to the Coroner, either from the report of a medical practitioner rendered under section 11 or from any other evidence, that the death is due to natural causes, and the body shows no appearance of death being attributable to or of having been accelerated by violence or by any culpable or negligent act either on the part of the deceased or of any other person, he may, except in cases specified in section 15, dispense with the holding of an inquest.

8.   Postponement and adjournment of inquests in certain cases

   (1) If, before or after proceedings in an inquest have commenced the Coroner is informed that some person has been or is about to be brought before a court on criminal charges in connection with the death of the deceased, the Coroner shall, in the absence of reason to the contrary, not commence the inquest or, if the inquest has commenced, shall not continue or resume it, until after the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

   (2) After the conclusion of the criminal proceedings, the Coroner may, subject to the following provisions of this section, hold an inquest or resume the adjourned inquest if he is of the opinion that public benefit is likely to result from his so doing but if he is of the opinion that no public benefit is likely to result from his so doing, he shall certify his opinion to that effect and transmit that opinion to the Director of Public Prosecutions together with a certified copy of the inquest proceedings if the inquest has been commenced.

   (3) If in the course of the criminal proceedings under subsection (1) any person has been charged upon information, then upon the resumed inquest no inquisition shall contain any finding that sufficient grounds have been disclosed for charging that person with any offence of which he could have been convicted on the information or any finding which is inconsistent with the determination of any matter by the result of those proceedings.

   (4) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (2), where an inquest is postponed or adjourned in pursuance of subsection (1) and it is ascertained that a person to be charged cannot be found, the Coroner shall commence or resume the inquest, as the case may be, and conclude it.

   (5) For the purposes of this section, the expression "the criminal proceedings" means the proceedings before a subordinate court and before any court to which the accused person is committed for trial or before which an appeal from the convict of that person is heard, and criminal proceedings shall not be deemed to be concluded until no appeal can be made in the course of those proceedings without special leave or extension of time.

9.   Power to order exhumation

   (1) If it appears to any Coroner that the body of any person who has died in circumstances requiring the holding of an inquest having been held, or where the inquest although held was quashed or re-opened, the Coroner may, notwithstanding any written law or custom for the time being in force, by a warrant in the Form A prescribed in the Schedule to this Act, order the exhumation of that body; and shall, after the exhumation, proceed to hold an inquest on that body and direct its reinterment; and the expenses of the exhumation and reinterment shall be paid from the funds of the United Republic.

   (2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), an exhumation shall not be ordered in any case where, in the opinion of the Coroner it would be injurious to public health, or where there is no reasonable probability of the results assisting substantially in the determination of the circumstances or cause of death.

10.   Coroner may direct postmortem examination

   (1) If, for the purposes of the investigation of the circumstances of the death of any person, the Coroner considers it necessary to obtain a medical report on the appearance of the body of that person and as to the conclusions to be drawn from that appearance; he may, subject to subsection (2), by an order in the Form B prescribed in the Schedule to this Act; require any Government medical practitioner within or without his jurisdiction or, in the absence of such officer, any other medical practitioner within his jurisdiction, to make an examination of the body and to report on it.

   (2) A Coroner shall not order the conduct of a postmortem examination if he is of the opinion–

   (a)   that the examination cannot be made within such time as would enable it to be of practical value because–

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