The Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe, who is leading the nine judges, read for court provisions of the Presidential Elections Act which states that the return form, the tally sheet and the DR forms have to be submitted to the national tally immediately after the results at the district level is declared.
In the amended petition, former presidential candidate, Amama Mbabazi wants Electoral Commission, which is the second respondent in the petition, to provide the DR forms and tally sheets signed by district returning officers. Amama Mbabazi also wants to view the database of the biometric voting system.
This afternoon, during the time for way forward on the second day of pre-hearing trial, the Electoral Commission lead counsel, Enos Tumusiime invited the judges, the petitioner and respondents to the EC offices this Saturday at 2:00 pm to inspect the DR forms.
Tumusiime said the national summary of the presidential election results, the district summary tally sheets and results per polling station were provided in soft copy to all candidates on 23rd February 2016.
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In his response, Amama Mbabazi's lead lawyer, Mohammed Mbabazi said the tally sheets and DR forms they want produced are not those signed by EC Chairperson Badru Kiggundu or those used to compute the presidential results at the National Tally Centre, but those signed by returning officers and presidential candidates' agents at district level.
He was concerned that if they get the DR forms on Saturday it would be late since they have to make rejoinders to the answers the respondents would have made.
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Mbabazi reasoned that Kiggundu could not have been in all the districts to sign the DR forms and tally sheets. In his response, Tumusiime, said if the petitioner wants the hard copies of the DR forms, then Saturday would be realistic because each DR form is 56 pages and would require 616 reams of papers to produce.
Justifying why Saturday was a realistic time frame, Tumusiime argued that it would require that hard copies of DR forms and other documents required by the petitioner be brought from all the districts.
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However, Mbabazi retorted that since the DR forms were scanned and sent to the EC, they could make do with the soft copies like on CDs.
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The exchanges raised the interest and curiosity of the judges who started probing to get to the bottom of it all. The Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe, who is leading the nine judges, read for court provisions of the Presidential Elections Act which states that the return form, the tally sheet and the DR forms have to be submitted to the national tally immediately after the results at the district level is declared.
Additionally, read the Chief Justice, hard copies of the return form, the tally sheet and the DR forms should form part of report sent to the EC headquarters seven days after declaration of results at the district. He observed that the seven days have since elapsed.
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Justice Augustine Nshimye weighed in wondering if the DR forms at the districts, which were scanned and transmitted to the national tally center had the same information and signature with those in the possession of the EC at its headquarters.
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The EC lawyer was caught flat-footed, admitting that he wasn't' absolutely sure whether the scanned and transmitted DR forms and the tally sheets at the EC are the ones that were signed at the district. He requested that he consults with his client, the EC, before providing an answer by close of business today.
Tumusiime also promised to furnish court with a letter, by close of business today that would spell out what they can do in the circumstances. The Supreme Court granted Tumusiime's request but his client will have to produce the original declaration forms and tally sheets from the districts.
The judges rejected Amama Mbabazi's request for more time in the wake of the break-in into the chambers of two of his lawyers, in which vital evidence and affidavits in the case were reportedly stolen by armed men in police uniform. The Chief Justice said there is a need to stick to the constitutional timeframe of 30 days within which to hear and dispose of the case, which he described as very important.
The Chief Justice also gave the petitioners two days to put their case when hearing starts on Monday the 14th, the respondents three days, a day for each of the respondents and one day for the petitioner and the respondents to make final submissions, after which the judges would retreat to make their ruling.
During the hearing there will also be time for cross-examination of witnesses. Court was also told that a lawyer, Patricia Mutesi, joined the legal team of the third respondent, the Attorney General, while Medard Ssegona joined the petitioner's team.
Justice Jotham Tumwesigye also cheekily asked Mohammed Mbabazi why he referred to his client, former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, as "the right honorable" since there is no use of such in courts of law. He also asked him if he could drop the title, to which Mbabazi humorously replied that with the judge's guidance the title can be removed in the petition.
The judges and the lawyers engage rather cordially, with the general courtroom mood being also cordial.