CHAPTER 36
INQUESTS ACT

Arrangements of Sections

   Section

PART I
PRELIMINARY

   1.   Short title

   2.   Interpretation

PART II
POWERS AND DUTIES OF CORONERS

   3.   Who may hold inquests

   4.   When inquest to be held

   5.   Power to dispense with inquest in certain cases

   6.   Postponement and adjournment of inquests in certain cases

   7.   Power to order exhumation

PART III
HOLDING OF INQUESTS

   8.   Inquest on persons in prison or in custody

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

   10.   Inquest where body destroyed or irrecoverable

   11.   Coroner may postpone burial or cremation till after inquest

   12.   Notice of death

   13.   Coroner may call for statements recorded by police officers

PART IV
POST-MORTEN EXAMIMATION

   14.   Coroner may direct post-mortem examinations

   15.   Medical practitioner to make an examination and report

PART V
PROCEDURE AT INQUEST

   16.   Evidence at inquest

   17.   Provisions regarding the viewing of body

   18.   Coroner may summon witnesses

   19.   Coroner not bound by rules of evidence

   20.   Evidence: how recorded

   21.   Statements recorded by police officers may be admitted as evidence in inquest

   22.   Examination of witnesses

   23.   Power to take evidence of witness unable to attend

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

   25.   Adjournment of inquest

   26.   Coroner to adjourn inquest in certain cases

   27.   Issue of summons or warrant

   28.   The inquisition

   29.   Where guilty party unknown

   30.   Where guilty party cannot be found

   31.   Return of inquisitions

   32.   Copies of documents to be supplied

   33.   Powers of High Court

PART VI
MISCELLANEOUS

   34.   Penalty where body is buried without authority

   35.   Obstructing medical officer, etc.

   36.   Regulations

   37.   Prescribed forms

      SCHEDULE

AN ACT

relating to inquests.

[6th January, 1939]

Act 52 of 1938,

Act 24 of 1939,

Act 8 of 1940,

Act 45 of 1940,

Act 26 of 1955,

Act 14 of 1957,

Act 40 of 1959,

Act 14 of 1960,

Act 3 of 1963,

Act 43 of 1966,

Act 1 of 1967,

Act 13 of 1994.

GN 207 of 1961,

GN 224 of 1964,

GN 303 of 1964,

GN 493 of 1964,

GN 497 of 1964.

SI 72 of 1964,

SI 24 of 1977.

PART I
PRELIMINARY

1.   Short title

This Act may be cited as the Inquests Act.

2.   Interpretation

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—

"building operation" has the meaning assigned to that expression by section 3 of the Factories Act;

"coroner" means any person empowered or appointed to hold inquests under this Act;

"factory" has the meaning assigned thereto by section 2 of the Factories Act;

See section 56 of the Medical and Allied Professions Act')">43"medical practitioner" means any person registered or licensed as a medical practitioner under the Medical and Allied Professions Act;

"mine" has the meaning assigned thereto by section 2 of the Mines and Minerals Act;

"work of engineering construction" has the meaning assigned to that expression by section 3 of the Factories Act.

[S 2 am by Act 14 of 1957;GN 303 of 1964.]

PART II
POWERS AND DUTIES OF CORONERS

3.   Who may hold inquests

   (1) Every magistrate having authority under the provisions of the Subordinate Courts Act to hold a subordinate court of the first, second or third class may hold inquests under this Act.

   (2) The Judicial Service Commission may, by Gazette notice, appoint any other fit person to hold inquests under this Act within any area specified in such notice.

   (3) A coroner shall have jurisdiction—

      (a)   if he is a senior resident magistrate or resident magistrate, throughout Zambia;

      (b)   if, not being a senior resident magistrate or a resident magistrate, he is empowered to hold inquests in terms of sub-section (1), within the limits of his magisterial jurisdiction;

      (c)   if he is appointed to hold inquests in terms of sub-section (2), within such area as is specified in the notice referred to in that sub-section.

   (4) Any inquest commenced by a coroner may be continued, resumed or reopened in the manner provided by this Act by such coroner or, if such coroner is absent or ill, by any other coroner having jurisdiction as provided by section 9.

[S 3 am by Act 24 of 1939, 40 of 1959, 3 of 1963;GN 303 of 1964, 493 of 1964.]

4.   When inquest to be held

Whenever a coroner is credibly informed that the body of a deceased person is lying within his jurisdiction, and that there is reasonable cause to suspect that such person has died either aviolent or an unnatural death, or in prison or in police custody, or in any place or circumstances which, in the opinion of the coroner, makes the holding of an inquest necessary or desirable, such coroner shall, except as otherwise provided in this Act, hold an inquest on such body as soon as is practicable.

5.   Power to dispense with inquest in certain cases

Whenever it shall appear to the coroner, either from the report of a medical practitioner rendered under section 15 or otherwise, that the death is due to natural causes, and that the body shows no appearance of death being attributable to or of having been accelerated by violence or by any culpable or negligent conduct either on the part of the deceased or of any other person, it shall thereupon be lawful for the coroner at his discretion (except in the cases specified in section 8) to dispense with the holding of an inquest.

6.   Postponement and adjournment of inquests in certain cases

   (1) Whenever the coroner is informed that some person has been or is about to be brought before a magistrate on a charge of the murder, manslaughter or infanticide of the deceased, or of causing the death of the deceased by the reckless or dangerous driving of a motor vehicle, or of complicity in the death of the deceased under section 8 of the Suicide Act, in the absence of reason to the contrary, the inquest shall not be commenced, or if commenced shall not be continued or resumed, until after the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

   (2) After the conclusion of the criminal proceedings, the coroner may, subject as hereinafter provided, hold an inquest or resume the adjourned inquest if he is of opinion that public benefit is likely to result from his so doing; but, if he is of opinion that no public benefit is likely to result from his so doing, he shall certify his opinion to that effect and transmit such opinion to the Director of Public Prosecutions together with a certified copy of the inquest proceedings if the inquest has been commenced:

Provided that, if in the course of the criminal proceedings 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 such information or any finding which is inconsistent with the determination of any matter by the result of those proceedings.

   (3) Notwithstanding the provisions of sub-section (2), where an inquest is postponed or adjourned in pursuance of sub-section (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.

   (4) For the purposes of this section, the expression "the criminal proceedings" means the proceedings before the magistrate and before the High Court, if the accused person is committed for trial by such court, or before any court to which the accused person may appeal from any conviction, and criminal proceedings shall not be deemed to be concluded until no appeal can be made in the course thereof without special leave.

[S 6 am by Act 14 of 1960, 1of 1967;SI 72 of 1964.]

7.   Power to order exhumation

Notwithstanding any law or custom to the contrary enacted or obtaining, whenever it shall appear to any coroner that the body of any person, who has died in circumstances requiring the holding of an inquest thereon, has been buried without being viewed or without such inquest having been held, or where such inquest, although held, has been quashed or reopened, it shall be lawful for such coroner by his warrant in Form 1 in the Schedule to order the exhumation of such body; and he shall, after such exhumation, proceed to hold an inquest on such body and thereupon direct the re-interment thereof; and the expenses of such exhumation and re-interment shall be paid, upon the coroner's order, from the general revenues of the Republic:

Provided that such 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 a satisfactory result being obtained thereby.

[S 7 am by SI 72 of 1964.]

PART III
HOLDING OF INQUESTS

8.   Inquest on persons in prison or custody

Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, where-—

      (a)   a prisoner; or

      (b)   a person in the custody of a police officer or detained in custody under a detention order;

dies from any cause whatsoever, it shall be the duty of the prison officer having charge of such prisoner or the police officer or other person having charge of such person, as the case may be, to give notice of the death of such prisoner or person to a coroner within whose jurisdiction such death occurred and that coroner shall hold an inquest.

[S 8 am by Act 43 of 1966.]

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

A 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 anybody is found in any river or in any inland waters, the inquest shall be held by the coroner within whose jurisdiction the body is first brought to land:

Provided 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 forthe inquest to be continued by another coroner, he shall, after viewing the body (if such view is necessary in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1) of section 17) and making such entry upon the record as is required to be made under the provisions of sub-section (4) of section 17, refer the record to such other coroner; and such other coroner shall thereupon, whether or not the body is lying within his jurisdiction and 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 the same in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

[S 9 am by Act 3 of 1963.]

10.   Inquest where body destroyed or irrecoverable

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