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Pay MPs their gratuity - court rules

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By Anthony Wesaka

Posted  Wednesday, December 18  2013 at  00:00

In Summary

This came after MP Kakooza complained to court that their gratuity was only paid to them for about five months.

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The High Court in Kampala has ruled that it was unlawful for the Parliamentary Commission to withhold legislators’ gratuity payments that were deposited in a special bank account without their consent.

The judgment arose from a representative suit filed by Kabula County MP James Kakooza, who was among others seeking court’s orders that the act by Parliament to withhold their gratuity was illegal.

MP Kakooza in his complaint had argued that the legislators of the 9th Parliament whose term officially begun on May 17, 2011, were according to section 2 of the Parliamentary laws; entitled to a gratuity paid to them at the end of each period of 12 months of service in office.

However, he states that their gratuity was only paid to them for about five months and thereafter a decision was taken by the Parliamentary Commission to have a special account opened in Crane Bank for purposes of investing the gratuity money on behalf of the MPs.

But Justice Elizabeth Musoke in her ruling on Monday held that it was unlawful to withhold the money without the MPs consent despite having good intentions to invest.

To that effect, court awarded MP Kakooza Shs20 million as damages for the inconvenience he suffered when his gratuity was withheld.

“It is therefore, the court’s finding and conclusion that the decision of the respondent (Parliamentary Commission) to withhold the accrued gratuity of the applicant (MP Kakooza) and other beneficiaries of this suit was unlawful and contravention of their constitutional rights,” ruled Justice Musoke.

He added: “In conclusion, the court finds that although the decision to invest the MPs’ gratuity was in good faith and in the interest of the said members, it was unlawful because it was done without their consent.”

Court also awarded costs to MPs; Kakooza and Sofia Nalule for having made demands for their gratuity from the Parliamentary Commission, though the costs were not specified.

According to court records, each legislator has since July, been paid their entire gratuity plus accrued interest.

awesaka@ug.nationmedia.com