Uganda Judicial Officers Association (UJOA), an association of judicial officers in the country have rushed to the Kampala High Court seeking to remove the Judiciary Permanent Secretary, Mr Pius Bigirimana from office on grounds that his office is non-existent in the judiciary.
These argue that the Judiciary is not a ministry or a government department, but an arm of government which cannot have a permanent secretary.
Bigirimana’s July appointment as PS by President Yoweri Museveni, they say, is “illegal, ultra vires, irrational and is jeopardizing the independence of the Judiciary.”
It is however, worth noting that Mr Bigirimana is neither the first not second Permanent Secretary to the judiciary.
“If I remember well the Judiciary has had Permanent Secretaries for the last 20 years or so,” said the Judiciary spokesman Mr Solomon Muyita in an interview with this website.
“The Judiciary is an arm of government of its own, but the President appoints a PS there to act as the accounting officer. That is because the other people (judicial officers) are not trained in that area,” Muyita says.
On whether or not the presidential appointment interferes with the constitutional separation of powers principle, Mr Muyita says most of the officers in the Judiciary are already appointed by the Executive.
“As of now, all the support staff of the judiciary, all the clerks, the secretaries and administration staff are deployed there by the Ministry of Public Service.”
It is believed that the move by judicial officers to push Mr Bigirimana out of office could be in retaliation to his recent radical measures meant to clean up the sector.
Birigimana last month launched the process of procuring the Electronic Court Case Management Information System (ECMIS), which if fully implemented, could plug most of the corruption channels that have been exploited by officers in the judiciary.
The PS on September 16th 2019, signed a contract with M/S Synergy International System and M/S. Sybyl Limited for the Design, Development, Deployment and Maintenance of the ECMIS.
The fully-featured system will automate and track all aspects of a case life cycle from initial filing through disposition and appeal as to each individual party for any case type.
It will also be able to facilitate reliable collection, organization, distribution and retrieval of significant amounts of case specific data as well as the processing of payment of relevant court fees and fines by the Citizens.
In effect, the ECMIS will reduce human-to-human interaction, thereby making it un-attractive to engage in corrupt tendencies.
The case at High Court is believed to be a retaliation against this measure, as they have for years exploited the public.
In august this year, Chief Justice Bart Katureebe set up a six-member taskforce to investigate allegations of corruption in the Judiciary.
The commissioning of the team led by Inspector of Courts, Immaculate Busingye followed a media exposé which unearthed numerous ways judicial officers have been exploiting members of the public and extorting money from them.