Justices , Advocate lock horns on Judiciary’s independence

KAMPALA -The Constitutional court will deliver on notice the judgement in consolidated matter where two parties challenges various provisions of the Judiciary Administration Act 2020.

Counsel Steven Kalali , one of the petitioners leaving court on Wednesday.

The Judiciary Administration Act which is being challenged, started operating on June 19th, 2020 after President Yoweri Museveni assented to it.

In the first petition, City lawyer Steven Kalali contends that the Administration of Judiciary Act is unconditional for being discriminative against other public officers by providing monthly payments , benefits to retired chief Justice and other judicial officers upon clocking mandatory age which is not the case with their other counterparts in government.

The second petition filed 24 / 21 challenges the Constitutionality of section 17, Administration of Judiciary Act 2020 on Appointment of secretary to Judiciary which makes this independent arm appear to be equated to a Government Ministry which is unconstitutional.

“The Constitutional is very clear that Judiciary is an independent arm of government w a self accounting arm of government. We believe that the way section 17 of Administration of Judiciary Act has been set up raises some issues of constitutionality.”

As the matter of saving time and without an objection from the parties, the panel of five justices led by Irene Mulyagonja consolidated the two petitions into one and promised to deliver the judgement on notice.

However, Counsel Laston Gulume, found hard time to convince the panel of justices about the meaning of judiciary’s independence.

“My Lords, the law is very clear under Article 128 of the constitution on the independence of the Judiciary; The Judiciary a self accounting organ with powers to deal directly with the Ministry of Finance on its budget.”

Justice Mulyagonja has guided counsel that Judiciary independence only ends at listening and writing court decisions, but when it comes to accountability, they have to account for the tax payer’s money as any government ministry or agency.

“How does the appointment of Secretary to Judiciary affect Judicial Independence and how do u want Judiciary to account for the funds it receives from the consolidated funds?” Mulyagonja asked

In Gulume’s response, he clarified that he has no problem with appointment of the Secretary to the Judiciary and being appointed by the President, but the main problem is the laws on which he operates (those governing Permanent Secretaries in Ministries) , where they have more powers in running of the Minsitry.

The justices have given Kalali four days to file his rejoinder as well as Six days to Gulume also to file his rejoinder in the consolidated petition.

The other justices on the panel include: Oscar Kihika, Moses Kawumi Kazibwe ,Margaret Tibulya and Christopher Gashirabake

More About the Act

The Law provides that , Retired Justices of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Principal Judge, and Judges of the High Court, will continue getting 80 percent of their salaries once they have clocked their respective mandatory ages of retirement.

Secondly , they will also get a lump-sum retirement benefit equivalent to 2.4 percent of their annual salary multiplied by five and their years of service.

They will also be entitled to state security, chauffeur-driven cars, and annual medical and housing allowances. The act excludes registrars and magistrates from the provision of security, cars, medical and housing allowances despite the fact that they will continue earning their monthly salary for life.






















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