The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee led by its Chairperson Hon. George Gitonga Murugara has today held meetings with different Legislators proposing various amendments on different Bills.
The first legislator to appear before the committee was Hon. Simon King’ara (Ruiru), who is proposing amendments on the Law of Contract Act, Cap. 23; to provide that incase of a default of a certain financial obligation, the plaintiff should first realize the assets of the defaulter before attaching the assets of a guarantor. The proposal is intended to protect the guarantors against the claims that arise following default on financial obligations by the principal. This Bill had been passed by the House during the 12th Parliament but was referred back by the President.
The Chairperson of the committee commended the legislator for the proposals noting that they will help caution guarantors, and promised to further deliberate on them with the committee members.
“We need to look into some sort of exhaustive remedies against the principal borrower and we also have something on security, exhausting on items to recover that are stated by the principal lender. The committee will look at it considering all the reservations and address them conclusively.” Said Hon. Murugara.
Hon. Francis Masara, (Suna West) appeared before the committee with amendment proposals for the Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2022. The principal aim of this Bill is to amend the Marriage Act, 2014; by introducing Clause 2 of the Bill to amend section 2 of the Act by inserting a new definition of the term “mutual separation”.
The proposal also seeks to introduce clause 3 of the Bill by inserting a new section 75(A) into the Act, to provide that parties in a marriage may jointly petition the court for decree of divorce by mutual consent if the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the parties have mutually separated for atleast one year immediately preceding the date of presentation of the petition and also if the parties have mutually agreed to dissolve the marriage.
“The current process will remain intact. But the only difference is, in the current process, only one party goes to court. But in most instances when people are divorcing, none of us wants to make the first move. But in this one, I want to introduce the process; how do we initiate it. The only cure I want to make is for the two to initiate the entire process which will go as per the current law.” Stated Hon. Masara.
The committee also heard from Hon. Julius Sunkuli (Kilgoris) who has a proposal for the National Coroners Service (Amendment) Bill, 2023; that seeks to amend the National Coroners Act, 2017; to have a Coroner-General, who should be a legal practitioner on account of the complexity and the technical nature of the role which requires them to make recommendations on the legal and policy interventions in accordance with standards and practice.
Further, the proposal re-designates the office of the Coroner-General and the National Coroners Service from the Public Service Commission to the Judicial Service Commission. The legislator also noted that the Attorney General has never been categorized as a Cabinet Secretary and therefore proposed deletion of the term Cabinet Secretary and insertion of the word ‘Commission’, to mean the Judicial Service Commission.
On the qualifications, the legislator proposes an alteration of the qualification of a Coroner-General from a medical practitioner to an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya with atleast 10 years experience.
Hon. Sunkuli noted that this office will help to thoroughly and independently investigate the extra judicial killings happening in the country, especially the current mysterious killings of people in Shakahola, Kilifi County.
The sessional Chair Hon. John Kaguchia (Mukurwe-ini) agreed that there are many things that have come into question with this Bill, and that it needs to be looked into comprehensively.
The committee lastly heard from Hon. David Gikaria (Nakuru East) regarding the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 56 of 2022). The legislator proposes to amend the Penal Code, Cap. 63, by repealing section 182 which provides for offences relating to idle and disorderly persons.
Hon. Gikaria argued that the provision has been abused by law enforcement agencies to harass innocent members of the public and that it limits the right to freedom of movement and association.
“We need to mop up these colonial laws which are in our constitution. You find the arrests for some minor offences are blown up using section 182 and exorbitant penalty charges instigated on the accused.”
The Murugara-led committee will be conducting an in-depth analysis on the proposals while considering the current laws, the loopholes and the resultant implications of the amendments.