Widows who remarry now entitled to inherit property from previous marriage
The High Court in Meru has declared sections of the Succession Act that denies widows from inheriting property from their previous marriage unconstitutional. With the declaration, widows who choose to remarry will now be able to inherit properties from their previous marriage.
Justice Edward Murithi, in a judgement issued on Thursday, said that section 35 (1) (b) and section 36 (1) (b) were unconstitutional in a petition filed by Ripples International. This follows a petition filed last year by Ripples International, a non-governmental organization based in Meru.
Other human rights groups, including Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) Kenya and Inua Mama Mjane, joined Ripples International in the petition. They cited parts of Section 35 and Section 36 of the Act denies a widow the right to the deceased husband’s estate if she remarries.
The group argued that treating one party differently contravenes the constitution.
“This therefore means that any provision that undermines the right of a party to marry or to equality of party to a marriage, by treating one party differently, contravenes the constitution,” the petitioner argued, adding that the Act promotes gender-based inequality and discrimination against women in Kenya.
Ripples International also argued that Section 32 goes against the constitutional provision for equal protection, rights and fundamental freedoms.
“The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth,” the petitioner submitted.
Section 32 of the Succession Act provides for property and districts which are excluded from the provisions of the law when someone dies without a will. Succession law in Kenya has developed from pre-independence.