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INQUESTS ACT.

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

   Section

PART I
GENERAL.

   1.   Interpretation.

   2.   Who may hold inquests.

   3.   Inquest book.

   4.   When inquest to be held.

   5.   Power to order exhumation.

   6.   Inquest to be held by coroner of place where body lying.

   7.   Inquest where body destroyed or irrecoverable.

   8.   Coroner may postpone burial or cremation until after inquest.

   9.   Notice of death.

   10.   Duty of police officer.

PART II
POST-MORTEM EXAMINATION.

   11.   Coroner may direct examination.

   12.   Medical practitioner to make examination and report.

PART III
PROCEDURE AT INQUEST.

   13.   Inquiries to be made by coroner.

   14.   Provisions regarding the viewing of body.

   15.   Coroner may summon witnesses.

   16.   Coroner not bound by Evidence Act.

   17.   Recording of evidence.

   18.   Power to take evidence of witness unable to attend.

   19.   Inquest on Sunday, etc. or in private.

   20.   Adjournment of inquest.

   21.   Staying of inquest and its resumption.

   22.   Issue of summons or warrant.

   23.   Finding.

   24.   Where guilty party unknown.

   25.   Where guilty party cannot be found.

   26.   Return of findings.

   27.   Powers of High Court.

PART IV
MISCELLANEOUS.

   28.   Burying or cremating without authority.

   29.   Obstructing medical officer, etc.

   30.   Penalty.

   31.   Power to make rules.

   32.   Expenses to witnesses.

   33.   Forms.

      Schedule   Forms.

CHAPTER 11
INQUESTS ACT.

Commencement: 31 August, 1935.

   An Act relating to inquests.

PART I
GENERAL.

1.   Interpretation.

   In this Act—

   (a)   "coroner" means any person empowered to hold inquests under this Act;

   (b)   "medical practitioner" means any person registered or licensed to practise medicine or surgery under the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act;

   (c)   "officer in charge of a police station" includes, where the officer in charge of the police station is absent from the police station, or unable from illness or other cause to perform his or her duties, the police officer present at the police station who is next in rank to that officer.

2.   Who may hold inquests.

   (1) Every magistrate appointed under the Magistrates Courts Act is empowered to hold inquests under this Act.

   (2) The Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, empower any other fit person to hold inquests under this Act within any area specified in that notice.

   (3) Any inquest commenced by a coroner may be continued, resumed or reopened in the manner provided by this Act by that coroner or by his or her successor in office.

3.   Inquest book.

   (1) In every court established under the Magistrates Courts Act, there shall be kept an inquest book in which shall be recorded the result of every inquest and such other matters as shall be required by this Act to be recorded in it.

   (2) Inquest books shall be in such form as the Chief Justice shall by rules prescribe.

4.   When inquest to be held.

   (1) Whenever a coroner is credibly informed that a person has died within his or her jurisdiction and that there is reasonable cause to suspect that the person has died a violent or unnatural death, or that the person has died in prison, or in police custody or while confined in any lockup or mental home, the coroner shall examine all the police and other records reasonably available relating to that death and after perusing those records—

   (a)   if the coroner is of the opinion that the death was due to natural causes or an accident and was not accelerated by violence or by any culpable or negligent conduct either on the part of the deceased or any other person, he or she shall record that opinion in the inquest book;

   (b)   if the coroner is of the opinion that the death might have been caused or accelerated by the violence or any culpable or negligent conduct of any person other than the deceased, he or she shall hold an inquest; or

   (c)   if the coroner is of the opinion that the death might have been caused or accelerated by violence or any culpable or negligent conduct of the deceased, he or she shall hold an inquest unless he or she is satisfied that an inquest is not likely to be desired by the relatives of the deceased and that no public benefit is likely to result from the holding of an inquest in which case the coroner shall record that opinion in the inquest book.

   (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), in the following cases the coroner shall always hold an inquest—

   (a)   if the deceased died in prison or in police custody or while confined in any lockup or mental home;

   (b)   if the deceased died as a result of a road traffic accident;

   (c)   if the deceased died as a result of an accident in a factory as defined in the Factories Act, or in a mine as defined in the Mining Act;

   (d)   in any case in respect of which he or she is directed by the High Court to hold an inquest; or

   (e)   in any other class of cases in respect of which the Minister by statutory instrument has declared that inquests shall always be held.

   (3) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), where the coroner is informed that criminal proceedings have been or are about to be instituted against any person in respect of a death, he or she shall not commence an inquest until such time as the criminal proceedings have been concluded, and then only if he or she is of the opinion that public benefit is likely to result from his or her so doing.

   (4) If the coroner is of opinion that no public benefit is likely to result from his or her so doing, the coroner shall record that opinion in the inquest book.

5.   Power to order exhumation.

   (1) Notwithstanding any law or custom to the contrary, whenever it shall appear to any coroner that it is in the interest of justice that the body of any person which has been buried should be examined, the coroner may by his or her warrant in Form A of the Schedule to this Act order the exhumation of the body; and he or she shall after the exhumation proceed in the manner set out in section 4 and shall order the reinterment of the body so soon as may be convenient.

   (2) The expenses of any exhumation made pursuant to an order under subsection (1) and the reinterment of the body shall be paid, upon the coroner's order, out of monies provided by Parliament.

6.   Inquest to be held by coroner of place where body lying.

   The coroner only within whose jurisdiction the body of any person, upon whose death an inquest ought to be held, is lying shall hold the inquest, notwithstanding that the cause of death arose elsewhere; and if any body is found in any river, creek or navigable canal, or in any inland waters, the inquest shall be held by the coroner within whose jurisdiction the body is first brought to land; except that where it appears to a coroner by whom an inquest has been commenced that, owing to special circumstances to be entered upon the record of the inquest, it is expedient for the inquest to be continued by another coroner, he or she shall, after viewing the body (if such view is necessary in accordance with section 14) and making such entry upon the record as is required to be made under section 14(5), refer the record to that other coroner; and that other coroner shall thereupon, subject to any directions in that behalf which may be given by the High Court, and which the High Court is hereby empowered to give, continue the inquest and conclude it in accordance with this Act.

7.   Inquest where body destroyed or irrecoverable.

   When a coroner has reason to believe that a death has occurred in the area within which he or she has jurisdiction in such circumstance

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