Court

Gov’t Breaks Silence on Chief Justice Appointment

Government has denied any inaction in regard to the delayed appointment of a substantive Chief Justice (CJ) and Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ).

The Attorney General, ailment buy information pills http://christlutheran.org/wp-includes/class-walker-nav-menu.php Peter Nyombi, stuff http://class-actions.us/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-posts-list-table.php said on January 30 that President Museveni had duly extended the tenure of the former CJ, http://dan.rabarts.com/wp-admin/includes/class-file-upload-upgrader.php Benjamin Odoki, on a two year contract, but the move was challenged in courts, and the process is still ongoing.

“I verily believe that there has been no inaction on the part of Government to appoint a substantive Chief Justice as on June 26, 2013, the Judicial Service Commission wrote to the President proposing names of the Hon. Justices of the Supreme Court among them Hon. Justice Benjamin Odoki,” stated Mr. Nyombi in a sworn affidavit.

“I know that on July 9, 2013, H.E. the President wrote to the Chairperson of Judicial Service Commission communicating his acceptance that Honorable Justice Benjamin J. Odoki be appointed as Chief Justice of Uganda for a term of 2 years but the appointment was challenged in Constitutional Petition No. 39 of 2013…which has since been appealed against and is now awaiting the Supreme Court of Uganda’s directions on a date for scheduling of the case.”

Mr Nyombi ‘s affidavit was filed at the High Court Civil Division in Kampala in response to a judicial review, among other things, seeking orders for quicker appointment of substantive CJ and DCJ on ground that Hon. Justice Kavuma is wrongfully acting the two offices.

Legal Brains Trust (LBT), a local civil society organization that filed the application no. 179 of 2014 contends that the delayed appointments “severely crippled and embarrassed the Judiciary”.

Lawyers have since protested working under a “headless” judiciary.

The attorney general however, defends Hon. Justice Kavuma‘s role. “Honorable Justice Steven B. Kavuma was on 13th March 2013 requested by the then Chief Justice to take care of the office of the Deputy Chief Justice as the then Ag. Deputy Chief Justice, Hon. Lady Justice C.K. Byamugisha, was unwell and unable to perform the duties of that office and he continued performing those functions of that office until Her Lordship unfortunately passed on,” wrote Nyombi.

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He says that the 1995 Uganda Constitution fully mandates the Deputy Chief Justice to perform the duties and functions of the chief justice when the office falls vacant until an appointment for a new one is made.

“I know that a reference of the holder of an office by the term designating his or her office shall be construed meaning the person for the time being lawfully holding, acting in or performing the functions of that office.”

He says there is no evidence that organs and agencies of Government have been crippled and embarrassed by the delayed appointment of the CJ and DCJ.

Museveni appointment

However, Uganda Law Society (ULS) President, Ruth Sebatindira, said the ULS met with the appointing authority in April 2014 who assured them that once the Constitutional Court petition was concluded he would make the appointment of a Chief Justice.

He also assured them that the appointment of the Deputy Chief Justice would be handled before that as there was no impediment.

“It is nine months since we received those assurances. It is four months since the Constitutional petition was resolved. Even assuming that an appeal against this decision was lodged, it should only affect the Chief Justice position. The appointment of a Deputy Chief Justice, who could then lawfully and constitutionally act as Chief Justice has not been done.  We cannot continue to rely on hope alone,” said Sebatindira in January.

“The issue we face is not merely one of getting occupants in those positions.  It is fundamentally an issue of constitutional order. It is ultimately about justice for our people. It also affects us directly because we work in the Courts. The Judiciary continues to be treated as an irrelevant institution. It is being run under scandalous and unconstitutional circumstances yet it is the vanguard of the Constitution and our laws. We can no longer walk with our heads high to assure the Citizenry that all is well in the Judiciary because, all is not well.”

Caretaker

Hon. Justice Kavuma says was properly named as caretaker DCJ on March 13, 2013 by the then CJ Odoki, pending the appointment of a substantive DCJ.

“I did not appoint myself to act as the Acting Deputy Chief Justice and I was lawfully asked by the substantive Chief Justice to perform the said duties and I dully obliged,” he wrote in his January 29 affidavit.

He says he has not been drawing allowances and other emoluments or enjoyed privileges and immunities of the Chief Justice as alleged by LBT.

The AG further argues that the application cannot stand for it was filed out of time. The High Court Civil Division sitting in Kampala is due to hear the case and make a ruling.

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