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Supreme Court Consolidates Age Limit Appeals

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The Uganda Law society, a team of Six legislators and lawyer Male Mabiriizi challenged the petition on a ground that maintaining the constitutional amendment as passed by Parliament was an ambush of justice.
14 Nov 2018 14:53
Supreme Court Justices During Pretrial Conference of Age Limit Appeals

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The Supreme Court has consolidated the three appeals challenging a Judgment that upheld the removal of the presidential age limit from the Constitution. The appeals were separately filed by the Uganda Law Society, Six Opposition Members of Parliament and City Lawyer Male Mabirizi.

The petitioners are challenging the June 2018 judgment delivered in Mbale, when four out of five judges of the constitutional court upheld a constitutional amendment that lifted the age limit from the constitution, hitherto capped at 75.

The four judges; Alfonse Owiny Dollo, Remmy Kasule, Cheborion Barishaki and Elizabeth Musoke all agreed that parliament lifted the presidential age limit in conformity with the law. The fifth judge, Kenneth Kakuru disagreed with the rest and faulted parliament for usurping the powers of the constituents.

But the Law society, legislators and Mabiriizi challenged the petition on a ground that maintaining the constitutional amendment as passed by Parliament was an ambush of justice. The petitioners further contend that the justices of the Constitutional Court dug a grave for the country's future by allowing the lifting of the cap on the presidential age.

Today a Panel of seven Supreme Court Judges led by Chief Justice Bart Katureebe resolved to consolidate the petition and fixed January 15 and 16, 2019 as the date for the hearing.  Other members of the panel are Jotham Tumwesigye, Paul Mugamba, Opio Aweri, Richard Buteera, Stella Arach Amoko and Lillian Tibatemwa.

The Chief Justice directed the appellants to file their written submissions of the issues they want to be solved and serve the Attorney General not later than November 28, 2018. The Attorney General is expected to file his reply by December, 19th, 2018. Any rejoinders will be accepted before December 31.

The decisions were arrived at during a pretrial conference held to harmonize legal issues in the petitions ahead of the hearing.

There was controversy when Male Mabirizi, one of the petitioners, challenged guidance by the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, to limit their summaries between 10 and 50 pages.  Mabirizi had wanted a minimum of 75 pages for the submissions.

However, the Chief Justice overruled him saying that any smart lawyer can present all his arguments in not less than twenty pages if the issues are relevant and articulate.

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During the hearing in January, the parties had agreed that each appellant will be given one hour to present his argument in court then the attorney General will have three hours to make his defense.

But Mabirizi and the opposition MPs led by their lawyer Erias Lukwago protested saying that the Attorney General's chambers have sufficient manpower and capacity also to make submissions in the shortest time possible.

The Attorney General William Byaruhanga has said that he is satisfied with the agreement since it was done in line with the lawful procedures. 

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As part of the petition, Male Mabirizi is also challenging a decision by the constitutional Court to deny him court costs of 20 million Shillings that was granted to other petitioners. Mabirizi says the failure by the court to award him costs tantamount to discrimination.