The Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs led by the Chairperson Hon. Stephen Tashobya (MP Ntungamo district) on Tuesday 21st April 2015 had a first of its kind session at the High Court, in which it met the Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Katureebe
Hon. Tashobya informed the judicial team that it was mandate of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to review the budgets of government institutions which were under their jurisdiction.
The Chief Justice thanked the members for honoring their invitation and aired the concerns of the judiciary on various issues. He requested the members to help expedite the Judiciary Bill. “Assist the Supreme Court to raise funds for the priorities, please don’t let us fail” he requested.
He informed the Committee that the judiciary had plans to increase the number of judges from 52 to 82. This has been possible so far due to lack of finances and requested the Committee to look into this.
He further informed the members of the need for court infrastructure development and maintenance. “We have managed so far to build courts in fifty three districts for magistrates working with donor partners. However due to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed by Parliament, the donors pulled out.”
Hon. Justice Katureebe was very passionate about the fact that the judiciary needed to be well remunerated. “Do not lead us into temptation, if you pay the judiciary well then they will not take bribes. I don’t agree with them taking bribes but we should not tempt them”.
Hon Katuntu Abdu (MP Bugweri County) inquired if the former High Court Judges could be recalled to help reduce on the workload.
Justice Katureebe said that it is possible but had its limitations. “It is like giving Panadol to a malaria patient. The position of an Acting Judge is a temporary measure to cure the issue that we have. We need to recruit new judges.”
Hon. Alex Ndeezi (MP PWD Central region) was concerned about PWD not being able to access court rooms due to unfavorable structures. He also highlighted the fact that they sometimes don’t get assistance while in Court.
The Chief Justice further agreed with Hon. Ndeezi on the plight of PWD. “We have four floors on the commercial court and we usually have judicial meetings on the third floor. Our colleague with disability practically has to be carried to the floor. While we build we need to keep PWDs in mind.”
The Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs had visited the High Court to consider the Ministerial policy statement and budget of the judiciary for the financial year 2015-2016.