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ULS Accuses Justice Choudry of Vindictive Judgment Against Lawyers

Uganda Law Society accuses Justice Choudry, whose fitness as judge is being investigated, of using his position to rule vindictively against its members in a case before his court.
The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has come out strongly to criticise the recent judgment passed by High Court Judge Singh Choudry against its prominent lawyers, saying his conduct in the case was ‘offensive’ and the directives were, ‘ vindictive’.

 

On Thursday this week, Justice Choudry, whose fitness as judge is being investigated, delivered a judgment in which he ordered two prominent city lawyers Mr James Nangwala and Mr Alex Rezida; who were not parties in the suit together with their clients, to pay in excess of 37 billion shillings as damages to over 400 farmers.

 

The statement is signed by newly elected president ULS, Ms Ruth Sebatindira. The Friday statement argues that the conduct of Mr Choudry in HCCS 179 of 2002 is offensive to the judicial oath of administering justice without ill-will.

 

The suit in which Mr Nangwala and Mr Rezida handled, involved Mr Baleke Kayira Peter & 400 others Vs Attorney General and 2 others, which matter was allocated to Mr. Choudry.

 

Mr Choudry further in his verdict denied the lawyers their right to appeal unless the monies were first paid in full into court; ordered the IGG and the DPP to commence proceedings against the said lawyers.

 

The judge also in his verdict ordered in the alternative that the said monies be recovered from ULS by way of a charging order against the assets of ULS, which was itself not a party to this suit.

 

Justice Choudry’s troubled relationship with the two lawyers begun in 2012 when the ULS instructed them to argue a case they had instituted against the judge questioning his fitness as a high court judge having been struck off the Roll of Solicitors in the United Kingdom, under the Solicitors Act 1974.

 

The duo lawyers sought Mr Choudry’s recusal from the matter on grounds that he could be biased, but declined to do so and continued to hear it.

 

ULS, in a press statement issued out on Friday, states that by reason of having been found guilty of professional misconduct and having been struck off the Roll of Solicitors in the United Kingdom, Mr Choudry is not suitable or qualified to be a high court judge.

 

The lawyers’ body further demands that a tribunal be put in place as soon as possible to investigate Justice Choudry since the Judicial Service Commission found a prema facie regarding his professional fitness as high court judge.

 

ULS whose main role is to promote the Rule of Law in the country, in its press statement, pledged to support its members when they come under such attacks.

 

Background

 

 When Mr Choudry was appointed Judge of the High Court of Uganda in 2008, it emerged shortly thereafter that he had been struck off the Roll of Solicitors in the United Kingdom, under the Solicitors Act 1974.

 

As such, ULS exercising its mandate to promote the Rule of Law in Uganda took exception to the appointment of Mr Choudry and took steps to cause an investigation into his fitness to serve as a member of the bench.

 

Particularly, ULS complained to the Judicial Service Commission, the Judiciary and to President Museveni.

 

After several communications on the matter and a series of continued complaints, ULS filed a Petition in the Constitutional Court in 2012 seeking orders relating to the appointment of a Tribunal to investigate the question of the appointment and removal of Mr. Choudry from the Bench. The petition is still pending in that Court.

 

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