One Nuhu Yatera Mbaga brought a suit in the Court of Resident Magistrate, Arusha against the National Bank of Commerce and a firm of Auctioneers known as Nakara Auction Mart of Dar es H Salaam. The suit related to a house in Babati which belongs to Mr Mbaga which the defendants in the case allegedly threatened to sell without any justification.
The resident magistrate in charge of the Court of Resident Magistrate at Arusha assigned the case to a distict magistrate, one Mr Mbuge. The district magistrate rightly realised that he had no I jurisdiction to try a dispute the subject matter of which was outside his
A territorial jurisdiction, not to say that he does not sit in the Court of Resident Magistrate. Incidentally, although the plaint in the case was correctly titled `In the Court of Resident Magistrate' the Registry decided to open the case in the District Court of Arusha. This is a recurring careless mistake and the resident magistrate in charge should ensure that her Civil Registry staff know the B difference between the District Court of Arusha and the Court of Resident Magistrate for Arusha region and that cases are filed and opened in the correct registry.
Mr Mbuge, on realising that he had no territorial jurisdiction, returned the case file to the resident C magistrate in charge for reassignment to a resident magistrate who would have requisite jurisdiction.
On 23 May 1997 the resident magistrate in charge wrote thus in the case file:
D `Court: Its very unfortunate that it was an oversight when I assign (sic) this matter to D M Mbuge. In fact I have noted with concerned (sic) the NBC Branch is situated at Babati District, that being the case the Plaintiff ought to file his suit at court of competent jurisdiction and in this respect its Babati District Court unless the plaintiff apply for leave E at the High Court to file his case in the RM's Court Arusha. This court was once minded by his Lordship's (sic) Chief Justice's Circular that suits should and must be filed where the cause action arose and RM's Court was warned and directed not to admit cases/suits from Districts. They are to be filed in their respective Districts. for that F reason the present suit plus Misc Civil Application is dismissed and the same to be filed at Babati District Court.'
After his suit and a pending application were dismissed Mr Mbaga complained to the judge in G charge of the High Court at Arusha substantially saying he has been penalised on the basis of an alleged circular from the Chief Justice of which the public are not aware.
H With respect, Mr Mbaga is not alone for being ignorant of the alleged circular from the Chief Justice, I, too, am not aware of such a circular. What was referred to as a circular from the Chief Justice apparently is a letter with reference No DR.AR/69/Vol.III/7 dated 10 April 1996 which the District Registrar wrote to the resident magistrate in charge of the Court of Resident Magistrate, I Arusha. The substance of the letter is that the Chief Justice who had been visiting some district courts of the Arusha region had received com-
plaints that some people in the districts who had money had been opening cases against their A adversaries at the Court of Resident Magistrate, Arusha knowing that because of financial inability the other parties to the case would not be able to appear in court at Arusha. Because of that ex-parte judgments would be given against them on default. After he received those complaints the Chief Justice directed the District Registrar to write to the resident magistrate in charge B `kukutahadharisha kuhusu mtindo huu wa baadhi ya watu. Aidha, inategemewa kuwa mara upatopo maagize haya, hakuna kesi za aina hiyozitakazofunguliwa kwenye mahakama yake badala ya huko Wilayani'. (My underlining.) C
The words which I have underlined are significant. The Chief Justice did not direct that no case which could have been filed in the district courts would be filed in the Court of Resident Magistrate. Indeed, the Chief Justice could not have made such an administrative direction because that would fly in the face of the law. The law allows deserving cases, even from the districts to be filed in the D Court of Resident Magistrate which has jurisdiction throughout the region. The directive of the Chief Justice was aimed at the cases from the districts which are filed at the Court of Resident Magistrate for improper ulterior motives and the resident magistrate in charge was being urged to E be on the lookout for such cases and send them right back to the districts to be filed there.
It seems clear to me that the learned Principal Resident Magistrate, who is the resident magistrate in charge, misconstrued the import of the District Registrar's letter to mean that the Chief Justice F had slapped a complete ban on civil cases from the districts being filed in the Court of the Resident Magistrate `unless leave of the High Court' was obtained!
The case and application which the learned Principal Resident Magistrate dismissed related to G defendants who would not fail to appear in Court at Arusha because of financial incapacity. The Board and top management of the first defendant are in Dar es Salaam and their zonal office is at Arusha. The second defendant is said to be of Dar es Salaam. So, in fact, the Court of Resident Magistrate at Arusha would be the most convenient venue for all the parties. The Principal Resident H Magistrate, therefore, erred in dismissing those cases for the reasons she gave.
Using the revisional powers of this court under s 44(1)(a) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1984 I quash and set aside the dismissal order. The case should be properly opened in the Court of I Resident
A Magistrate at Arusha as the plaint correctly shows and proceed according to law.