Judges Face Punishment over Delayed Judgments

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In short
The Shadow Attorney General, Wilfred Niwagaba and Kiira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, said there is need to amend a provision in the Court of Appeal Rules, which leaves the discretion to allocate cases to the Deputy Chief Justice.

The Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe is set to issue a practice directive to judges to deliver judgments that have been pending for more than 60 days. According to the Courts Chief Registrar, Paul Gadenya, the judges will be expected to deliver their judgments by May 30th 2017.
 
He says those who fail to comply with the practice directive will be submitted to the Judicial Service Commission for punishment. Practice directives are issued by the Chief Justice, in exercise of his constitutional mandate of superintending over the judiciary, to supplement the Rules of Court by regulating court practice and procedure.

Gadenya also notes that the Chief Justice has already issued a practice directive requiring Judges to conclude all cases that are more than two (2) years old within the next 20 months, adding that each court is expected to report back on the cases cleared from the backlog. Uganda has a backlog of more than 100,000 cases, which have affected the operation of the judicial system.
 
 
Gadenya disclosed this while appearing before the Legal Committee of parliament as party of the technocrats from the Judiciary led by the Judiciary Permanent Secretary, Kagole Kivumbi to defend their 2017/2018 financial year budget. 

He admitted that one of the things contributing to the case backlog is the delay by judges to deliver judgments after concluding cases, which he said is avoidable.
 
 
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Gadenya however, said the new practice directive is aimed at reducing case backlog, saying judges with pending judgments will be required to take off time to write and deliver them. He was responding to question raised by the legislators led by the Legal Committee Chairman, Jacob Oboth-Oboth why the Court of Appeal has taken long to dispose parliamentary election petitions.

 
Oboth said that the delay to dispose of the petition and absence of a clear criterion to guide the allocation of cases to particular judges had led to a feeling that decisions are influenced by money. He explained to the judiciary officials that election petitions are a matter of public interest, adding that there is speculation that the delay is deliberate.
 
The Shadow Attorney General, Wilfred Niwagaba and Kiira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, said there is need to amend  a provision in the Court of Appeal Rules, which leaves the discretion to allocate cases to the Deputy Chief Justice. Rule 20 off the Court Appeal gives the responsibility of determining the allocation of business and the sittings of the Court of Appeal to the deputy Chief Justice. 

The MPs noted that the provision is currently being abused by the Deputy Chief Justice, Steven Kavuma. Niwagaba said the provision should be amended to allow the registrar to allocate the cases like it is at High Court level.  However, in his response, Gadenya asked parliament to approve the cost for an automated system that allocates cases to judges depending on their load.



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The Judiciary requires Shillings 36 billion s over a three year period to acquire the ICT system for courts. However, government has allocated the Judiciary only Shillings 781 Million out of the required Shillings 14 billion for installing the ICT system leaving a funding gap of Shillings 11.2 billion.
 

 

About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.