Chief Justice Bart Katureebe has come out to explain why the Constitutional Court had delayed to deliver the ruling on the petition challenging last year’s constitutional amendment that among others got rid of the Presidential age limit.
Varying opinions, according to the Chief Justice, are the reason for the delay of the ruling, which however, can be expected within one month from now.
Petitioners citing a number of constitutional violations, human rights abuses and flouted parliamentary procedures, asked the court to annul the amendment bill, — now an Act — which was presented by MP Raphael Magyezi and passed by parliament last year.
Five judges of the constitutional court sitting in Mbale; having heard the submissions from both sides, on April 19th adjourned the court, to deliberate and come up with a decision, on a date which they said would be announced.
Nearly ten weeks (68 days) down the road, no verdict has been reached by the five judges, much to the dismay of stake holders.
Yesterday during an “access to justice” open day in Bushenyi district, these concerns came out.
Buhweju MP Francis Mwijukye expressed fear that this delayed justice was likely to result into “denied justice.”
“The (Mbale) case has taken long. When it takes long, suspicions develop that may be something is being cooked somewhere,” the MP said.
Speaking in response however, the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe said the reason for the delay was because the judges were still exchanging their opinions on the case.
Katureebe said unlike cases with single judges at the High Court, in this case, all the five judges have to write their independent verdicts and share them amongst each other, which takes time.
“The judges are working, they are writing, the procedure is that if you have each judge writing his own judgement; after writing your judgement you must circulate it to all the others. If there are five judgements, each judge will get the onions of all the others. You must study them and give comments and they give comments on your as well. That takes time.”
He added however, that the judges are getting close to the verdict.
“From what I have been told, there should a ruling within the next month,” Katureebe reassured.