Mabirizi in documents filed before the Civil Division wants an injunction restraining the Commission from proceeding with the process undertaken and decisions it has reached in shortlisting, interviewing, appointing and recommending to the President for appointment of applicants for Judicial Officers.
City lawyer Male Mabirizi has petitioned the High Court seeking to
halt the recruitment process of judicial officers by Judicial Service Commission- JSC.
Mabirizi in documents filed before the Civil Division wants an injunction restraining
the Commission from proceeding with the process undertaken and decisions it has
reached in shortlisting, interviewing, appointing and recommending to the
President for appointment of applicants for Judicial Officers.
He wants the Commission, a statutory body charged with the
recruitment and regulation of the conduct of judicial officers restrained until
the determination of the main case which is challenging the legality of the
process being followed to conduct the recruitment.
On February 1 2021, the JSC issued an external advert number one of 2021 in
which it sought to fill positions of a Justice of Supreme Court, Justices of
Appeal, High Court Judges, Deputy Registrars, Assistant Registrars, Chief
Magistrates and Magistrates Grade One.
However, according to Mabirizi, the closing dates for submission
of applications were stated to be February 15th, 2021 at 5 pm with a note that
only shortlisted candidates shall be contacted. But they reportedly acted
contrary to universally known practices of shortlisting.
"I know that contrary to universally known practice that
before shortlisting, all applicants are subjected to standard examinations or
credentials where an applicant can know why he or she is left out. The Judicial
Service Commission organized no exam, no questions and no known methodology of
selecting shortlisted applicants", reads Mabirizi's application in part.
He argues that instead of considering the known procedures, between
April and May 2021, the Commission members and staff started contacting their
preferred applicants for interviews without following any criteria for
contacting such people.
According to his evidence, the said secretive non-verifiable method had led to a
piecemeal shortlisting based on nepotism and other corruption-related practices
and some of the interviews are scheduled starting May 31th 2021.
“Indeed I know that it is people connected to the members of the
Judicial Service Commission that have been contacted for interviews", adds
Mabirizi for instance cites Chief Magistrate Patricia Amoko whom
he says is a biological daughter of Supreme Court Judge Stella Arach Amoko, a
member of the Commission who has reportedly been shortlisted for the position
of Deputy Registrar leaving out more Senior Chief Magistrates.
According to Mabirizi who argues that he will suffer irreparable
damages if the injunction is not granted, the example of Justice Amoko’s daughter
is just a tip since almost all those privately contacted for interviews are
allegedly connected to the Judicial Service Commission staff and members.
//Cue in: “Mumusango ogwo mpakanya…
Cue out: ...nga bwekyetagisa”.//
//Cue in: “I have filed…
Cue out: ...nepotism and corruption".//
But when contacted the Spokesperson for Judicial Service
Commission Maria Nabulya on the alleged irregularities in the recruitment
process, she said that it is being conducted normally.
Nabulya noted that the advert for those wishing to be appointed into various
positions was put in newspapers and if Mabirizi has any evidence, he can take
it to the Chairperson of the Commission for investigations.
A few days ago, Mabirizi filed a similar case and it was allocated
to Justice Musa Ssekaana the head of the High Court Civil Division. But after
learning about it, he quickly withdrew the case and reinstated this one which
is yet to be allocated to a Judge.
The government which is yet to be summoned to file its Defense is
the only listed respondent in the matter.
Mabirizi's application comes at the time when Chief Justice
Alfonse Owiny-Dollo and other top leaders in the judiciary have occasionally
appealed to the president to increase the number of judicial officers to help
them fight case backlog which is currently crippling the justice system.