Hopes of securing a salary increment for High Court judges in the 2018/19 financial year have hit a snag after President Museveni said only low ranking judicial officials would get a pay raise.
The Chief Justice, Bart M. Katureebe has previously called for increased wages for judges to improve their welfare given the increasing cost of living.
However, Katureebe said his discussions with president Museveni on the matter are yet to bear fruit.
“I spoke to President Museveni about the judges’ salary enhancement but he told me that there is no money for salary increment,” said Katureebe while opening an orientation programme for 23 High Court judges this week.
“He told me that they will only enhance magistrates and registrars’ salaries in the coming financial year,” he added.
Katureebe said whereas the number of Members of Parliament was rising with the creation of new districts, funding to the Judiciary, another arm of government, remained low.
He further stressed the Judiciary had set up a Directorate of Planning, Budgeting and Research to be headed by a Judge to help coordinate the budgeting and planning process.
The training which will run for two weeks is organised by the Judicial Training Institute (JTI) in conjunction with the Judicial Service Commission is taking place at the Institute’s home at Nakawa.
The Chief Justice said he was happy finally do the induction which includes 13 High Court Judges who had never been inducted and the 10 newly appointed judges.
He said part of the problem to take long to hold the training has been the lack of funds to hold trainings in hotel.
This is the first time that judges are being inducted at JTI premises.
The CJ called for a mindset change saying they must exercise their discretion in accordance with the Constitution.
He said Judicial Officers must be agents of change if they are to serve the people well. We [judges] need to be each other’s gatekeeper in order to win public confidence.
“We have issues of unethical or inappropriate behaviour such as corruption. When it is talked about during public functions or in a private conversation, how do you feel as a judge? I feel as if it is me they are talking about because I am part of it. We must get rid of the vice,” he said.
He urged Judicial Service Commission to expedite investigations against Judicial Officers.
The Chief Justice urged the Judges to embrace technology for the purposes of e-justice as well as other reforms such as Alternative Dispute Resolution and Small Claims Procedure.
He told the judges that plans are underway to automate the Judiciary, whereby filing cases, serving documents and inspection would be done online.
The Chairperson of JSC, Justice Benjamin Kabiito, told the participants that the Commission will be evaluating their performance.
He added that it was important that the number of High Court Judges is increased to at least 120 judges to be able to handle case backlog.
Parliament recently approved the increase of High Court judges from 50 to 82.
Justice Stella Arach Amoko, a Justice of the Supreme Court who doubles as the Chairperson of the JTI Governing Council told the participants that the job of a judge is not for the faint-hearted.
However, she urged them to make good use of the training which will equip them for the judicial career.
She called for integrity among the participants saying that was the sure way to rise through the ranks.
The opening ceremony was attended by Rtd Supreme Court Justice, Alfred Karokora, Supreme Court Justice, Paul Mugamba and Justice Wilson Kwesiga the head of the Criminal Division of the High Court, among others.
The induction course is designed to usher Judges into the realm of dispensing Justice. It involves the enhancement of basic knowledge, skills and attitudes among the newly appointed Judicial Officers.
It is further intended to familiarise the new appointees with new duties as well as to ensure that they are updated with the developments in legal jurisprudence.