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Court Consolidates Petitions Against Provisions In Administration Of Judiciary Act :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Court Consolidates Petitions Against Provisions In Administration Of Judiciary Act

One of the petitions in this case was filed by lawyer Steven Kalali challenging some of the provisions he said were discriminatory in nature against public servants in different government entities who are not entitled to similar emoluments upon retirement like the top Judicial officers. The other case was filed by a one Gad Arthur Kisaalu challenging Section 17 of the Act which established the office of the Secretary of the Judiciary, to be responsible for the organization of the Judiciary implementing its administrative activities and policies of government.
Lawyer Lastone Gulume (Left) and Lawyer Steven Kalali (Right) at the Constitutional Court in Kampala.

Audio 2



The Constitutional Court in Kampala has consolidated two petitions challenging some provisions of the newly enacted administration of Judiciary Act such that they can be heard and determined at once.       

One of the petitions in this case was filed by lawyer Steven Kalali challenging some of the provisions he said were discriminatory in nature against public servants in different government entities who are not entitled to similar  emoluments upon retirement like the top  Judicial officers.  

The other case was filed by a one Gad Arthur Kisaalu challenging Section 17 of the Act which established the office of the Secretary of the Judiciary, to be responsible for the organization of the Judiciary implementing its administrative activities and policies of government.  

As a result, the petitioners have today appeared before the Constitutional Court panel of five Justices which has heard their respective cases after consolidation and promised to deliver judgement on notice.   

The Justices are: Irene Mulyagonja, Oscar Kihika, Margaret Tibulya, Moses Kazibwe Kawumi and Asa Mugenyi.  Kalali and Kisaalu’s lawyer Lastone Gulume told the Justices that they had filed and served their conferencing notes with the Attorney General who is the only respondent to this case. 

However, that the Attorney General who was being represented by State Attorney Charity Nabaasa had just served them the government’s submissions. As such, Kalali and Gulume  asked for more time to respond to the Attorney General which was granted before the case could be adjourned for judgement.      

On her part, Nabasa asked court to adopt her submissions and apologized for late service adding that she did not have objections to the requests of time asked. The Judiciary Administration Act came into force on June 19th, 2020 after President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni assented to it. 

The act is meant to strengthen the Judiciary as an independent arm of government. The act provides for the continued payment of monthly salary to a retired Chief Justice and his deputy on top of receiving a lump sum package equivalent to 2.4 percent of his or her annual salary multiplied by five and the total number of years spent in service.

According to provisions in the same law, retired Justices of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Principal Judge, and Judges of the High Court, will continue getting 80 percent of their salaries once they have clocked their respective mandatory ages of retirement. They will also get a lump-sum retirement benefit equivalent to 2.4 percent of their annual salary multiplied by five and their years of service.

They will also be entitled to state security, chauffeur-driven cars, and annual medical and housing allowances. The act excludes registrars and magistrates from the provision of security, cars, medical and housing allowances despite the fact that they will continue earning their monthly salary for life.

As a result, Kalali told the Court that some of the provisions in the Judiciary Act are discriminatory against public servants in different government entities who are not entitled to the same emoluments upon retirement which he said is unconstitutional.

Court heard that the act is also discriminatory in nature since it only favors judicial officers on the higher bench leaving out the junior officers when it comes to things like funeral expenses and other entitlements.

“Act provides retirement benefits with huge packages or more packages to members of the high bench to the exclusion of those from the lower bench is discriminatory and connotes selfishness which this court should not be seen to operationalize the same,” said Kalali.

He argued that unless the contested provisions of the Act are nullified, they are likely to cause or promote disrespect among public servants including police officers and health workers because of the discriminatory privileges.

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On his part, Kisaalu through his lawyer Gulume said that Section 17 of the Act when read together with Article 174(1) or the Constitution in establishing the office of the Secretary to the Judiciary as a department of Government is inconsistent and contravenes articles that guide on the independence of the Judiciary and powers given to the Chief Justice as well as the roles of the supreme Court.

Gulume said this undermines the independence of the Judiciary since the Secretary receives directives of direct instructions from the Ministry of Finance or Secretary to the Treasury which he says receiving such directives from the executive arm of the government is clear breach of the independence of the Judiciary guaranteed under the Constitution and creates an overlap in the roles of the office or the Secretary and the Chief Justice. 

"Article 128 (5) and 6 of the Constitution provides that the administrative expenses of the Judiciary, including all salaries, allowances, gratuities and pensions payable to or in respect of persons serving in the Judiciary, shall be charged on the consolidated fund and the Judiciary shall be self-accounting and may deal directly with the Ministry responsible for Finance in relation to its finances," said Gulume.    

It is his argument that  the Chief Justice under section 133 (1) or the Constitution is the one clothed with the powers to head the Judiciary and is therefore responsible for administration and supervision of all courts in the country and may issue orders and directions to the courts necessary for the proper and efficient administration of Judiciary. 

Accordingly, the Petitioner contends that by creating similar functions as those of the Chief Justice in the contentious section 17(2) , it interfere with the powers of the Chief Justice and wants the section nullified.