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|Case Number:||Environment and Land Case 262 of 2016|
|Parties:||Thomas Mose Kenyenya v Arvindhandra Himatlal Mehta, Ajaykumar Arvinchandra Mehta & County Government of Mombasa|
|Date Delivered:||23 Mar 2022|
|Court:||Environment and Land Court at Mombasa|
|Judge(s):||Nelly Awori Matheka|
|Citation:||Thomas Mose Kenyenya v Arvindhandra Himatlal Mehta & 2 others  eKLR|
|Court Division:||Environment and Land|
|Case Outcome:||Application dismissed|
|Disclaimer:||The information contained in the above segment is not part of the judicial opinion delivered by the Court. The metadata has been prepared by Kenya Law as a guide in understanding the subject of the judicial opinion. Kenya Law makes no warranties as to the comprehensiveness or accuracy of the information|
REPUBLIC OF KENYA
IN THE ENVIRONMENT AND LAND
ELC CASE NO. 262 OF 2016
THOMAS MOSE KENYENYA........................................PLAINTIFF
ARVINDHANDRA HIMATLAL MEHTA...........1ST DEFENDANT
AJAYKUMAR ARVINCHANDRA MEHTA..... 2ND DEFENDANT
COUNTY GOVERNMENT OF MOMBASA......3RD DEFENDANT
This application is brought by Thomas Mose Kenyenye who claims to have acquired title by adverse possession to all the piece of land known as MSA/BLOCK/XVII/1354/M.I for determination of the following questions;
1. Whether the plaintiff has acquired title to the suit property by adverse possession? If so it be declared and decreed that the plaintiff/applicant has acquired title to all that parcel of land known as MSA/BLOCK/XVII/ 1354/M.I by adverse possession.
2. Whether the 1st and 2nd Defendants title to the suit property has been extinguished by operation of the law. If so, it be declared and decreed that pursuant to the provisions of Section 17 of the Limitation of Actions Act, Cap 22 laws of Kenya, the 1st and 2nd Defendants title to all that title of land known as MSA/BLOCK/XVII/1354/M.I is extinguished.
3. Whether the Plaintiff is entitled to be registered as the owner of the suit property.? If so, it be declared and decreed that the Plaintiff be registered as the owner of all that parcel of land known as MSA/BLOCK/XVII/ 1354/M.I.
4. Whether by dint of Section 8 of the Limitation of Actions Act, Cap 22, Laws of Kenya, and the 3rd Defendant is barred for claiming any rent arrears? If so, the 3rd Defendant be stopped for attaching for rent on the parcel of land known as MSA/BLOCK/XVII/1354/M.I.
5. That costs of this application be in the cause.
PW1 testified that he moved to the suit land about 25years ago and he makes beds and does carpentry there. That he also lives there and has never been evicted. In 2016 he got a notice for rent and the defendants were mentioned as the owners. He did a search and later filed this case.
This court has carefully considered the evidence and submissions therein. The Defendant/Respondents were served through advertisement in the Daily newspaper but failed to enter appearance or file a defence and the matter proceeded exparte. The Land Registration Act is very clear on issues of ownership of land and Section 24(a) of the Land Registration Act provides as follows:
“Subject to this Act, the registration of a person as the proprietor of land shall vest in that person the absolute ownership of that land together with all rights and privileges belonging or appurtenant thereto.”
Section 26 (1) of the Land Registration Act states as follows:
“The Certificate of Title issued by the Registrar upon registration … shall be taken by all courts as prima facie evidence that the person named as proprietor of the land is the absolute and indefeasible owner… and the title of that proprietor shall not be subject to challenge except –
a. On the ground of fraud or misrepresentation to which the person is proved to be a party; or
b. Where the certificate of title has been acquired illegally, unprocedurally or through a corrupt scheme.”
The law is clear that, the Certificate of Title issued by the Registrar upon registration shall be taken by all courts as prima facie evidence that the person named as proprietor of the land is the absolute and indefeasible owner and the title of that proprietor shall not be subject to challenge except – On the ground of fraud or misrepresentation to which the person is proved to be a party; or Where the certificate of title has been acquired illegally, unprocedurally or through a corrupt scheme.
This court in considering this matter referred to the case of Elijah Makeri Nyangw’ra –vs- Stephen Mungai Njuguna & Another (2013) eKLR where the court held that the title in the hands of an innocent third party can be impugned if it is proved that the title was obtained illegally, unprocedurally or through a corrupt scheme. The court in the case while considering the application of section 26(1) (a) and (b) of the Land Registration Act rendered himself as follows:-
“--------------the law is extremely protective of title and provides only two instances for challenge of title. The first is where the title is obtained by fraud or misrepresentation to which the person must be proved to be a party. The second is where the certificate of title has been acquired through a corrupt scheme.”
Be that as it may, in determining whether or not to declare that a party has acquired land by adverse possession, there are certain principles which must be met as quoted by Sergon J in the case of Gerald Muriithi vs Wamugunda Muriuki &Another (2010) eKLR while referring to the case of Wambugu v Njuguna (1983) KLR page 172 the Court of Appeal held as follows;
1. In order to acquire by statute of limitations title to land which has a known owner the owner must have lost his right to the land either by being dispossessed of it or by having continued his possession of it. Dispossession of the proprietor that defeats his title are acts which are inconsistent with his enjoyment of the soil for the purpose for which he intended to use it. The respondent could and did not prove that the appellant had either been dispossessed of the suit land for a continuous period of twelve years as to entitle him, the respondent to title to the land by adverse possession.
2. The limitation of Actions Act, on adverse possession contemplates two concepts: dispossession and discontinuance of possession. The proper way of assessing proof of adverse possession would then be whether or not the title holder has been dispossessed or has discontinued his possession for the statutory period and not the claimant has proved that he has been in possession for the requisite number of years.
3. Where a claimant pleads the right to land under an agreement and in the alternative seeks adverse possession, the rule is: the claimant’s possession is deemed to have become adverse to that of the owner after the payment of the last installment of the purchase price. The claimant will succeed under adverse possession upon occupation for at least 12 years after such payment.
The court was also guided by the case of Francis Gicharu Kariri vs Peter Njoroge Mairu, Civil Appeal No. 293 of 2002 (Nairobi) the Court of Appeal approved the decision of the High Court in the case of Kimani Ruchire vs Swift Rutherfords & Co. Ltd. (1980) KLR 10 where Kneller J, held tha;
"The plaintiffs have to prove that they have used this land which they claim as of right: nec vi, nec clam, nec precario (no force, no secrecy, no persuasion)”.
So the plaintiffs must show that the defendant had knowledge (or the means of knowing actual or constructive) of the possession or occupation. The possession must be continuous. It must not be broken for any temporary purposes or any endeavours to interrupt it. In applying these principles to the present case, PW1, testified that he has been in uninterrupted exclusive physical occupation of MSA/BLOCK/XVII/1354/M.I for a continuous period of over 21 years and no one has evicted him. That the Respondents have shown no interest in this plot neither has he given any notice to vacate from the suit land and he lives and works there. The plaintiff did not provide any evidence to corroborate his story. Secondly the certificate of search was produced on the title is dated 2016 and does not show the current status of the ownership. The green card produced as evidence is not sufficient in the absence of the certificate of title. The title deed was never produced. It was not established if the title No. MSA/BLOCK/XVII/1354/M. Is the same as No. MSA/BLOCK/XVII/1354 as shown in the search and green card. From the evidence before me, I find that the plaintiff has not been in exclusive, continuous and uninterrupted possession, occupation and open use of the said portion of land for a period in excess of 12 years. I find that the plaintiff has failed has established that possession of the suit land was continuous and not broken for any temporary purposes or any endeavours to interrupt it for a period of 12 years. He has also not established who the current registered proprietor of the suit land is. I find that the plaintiff has failed to established his case on a balance of probabilities against the defendants and l dismiss it with no orders as to costs as the same was undefended.
It is so ordered.
DELIVERED, DATED AND SIGNED AT MOMBASA THIS 23RD DAY OF MARCH, 2022