The Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has suspended hearing
of all court cases including election petitions for 42 days.
According to the circular issued on Monday, Owiny-Dollo says
that the suspension is being done in line with the directives issued by President
Yoweri Museveni on June 6th 2021 for prevention and mitigation of
the spread of COVID-19.
Museveni on Sunday issued a number of guidelines including
closure of education and religious facilities, banning cross border district
movements, meetings of more than 20 people and said that only the Cabinet,
Parliament and the Judiciary shall not be affected.
However, in his circular, the Chief Justice has suspended
all court hearings, execution proceedings and processes and noted that for the
cases at the stage of submissions, the respective courts may advise the parties
to file written submissions through email addresses provided by the court.
"Judicial Officers handling urgent business must
operate in court halls or open space at the courts. Whenever practicable
virtual hearing of cases should be adhered to including insisting on written
submissions use of email, online delivery of judgements and audio visual
hearings and other modes of contactless communication, ” reads the circular in
According to the circular, the Judiciary will also scale
down operations to 30 percent physical presence and ensure that only critical
staff remain to attend to the court/office business on a daily basis and all
registries must remain open to allow filing of cases.
"The heads of courts and departments should immediately
workout a duty Rota by which staff shall work in rotation until further
directions are issued. For the duty Rota must include a Judicial Officer and
very essential support staff" it adds.
The circular adds that only urgent matters will be heard
during the 42 days in strict observation of the standard operating procedures
and it also encourages other Judicial staff to work from home.
However, when contacted one of the lawyers for a comment on
suspension of hearing of Election Petitions, Caleb Alaka said that it is not
only unfair but the Judiciary is perpetuating fraud.
Alaka who represents a number of petitioners in court and respondents
such as Rebecca Kadaga, the former Speaker of Parliament said that people like
Kawempe North MP Muhammad Ssegirinya whose victory is being challenged by his
client Sulaiman Kidandala is going to continue enjoying privileges in
Parliament when he doesn't have the necessary academic qualifications to be
The law mandates the Judiciary to hear Electoral Petitions
within 60 days.
But the Judiciary Public Relations Officer Jamson Karemani
says that they are still within the time because the counting starts after a
hearing date has been given.
//Cue in” We would like…
Cue out: …matters will resume.”//
//Cue in: “Waliwo emisango mungeli…
Cue out: ….tulyoke tuzikoleko.”//
In this case, the Judiciary had not yet fixed any hearing
dates despite 104 parliamentary election petitions and 49 local government
petitions that were filed after the January/February 2021 general elections.