Tuesday March 11 2014

Judge drags AG to court over promotion

Justice Joseph Murangira.

Justice Joseph Murangira. PHOTO BY DOMINIC BYUKENYA 

By Juliet Kigongo

A High Court judge against whom the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament recommended disciplinary action against for making an “exorbitant” award to a private company, has dragged the Attorney General (AG) to the Constitutional Court.

Justice Joseph Murangira says the recommendation was unconstitutional and should be expunged from the House records. The judge, who alleges that the House’s recommendation which denied him promotion to the Court of Appeal was null and void, is also seeking damages against government.

He says the recommendation of Parliament amounted to abuse of the principle of separation of powers where the August House purported to usurp powers of court to determine cases independently.

The case follows PAC’s report that condemned Justice Murangira in absentia for awarding Shs4 billion to Beachside Development Services Ltd in 2009 in a case against the National Forestry Authority.

The committee came up with the report after considering an AG’s report that had expressed concern over the rising cost of awards against government in civil matters.

The judge says that the above parliamentary report, which was widely published in the local media portrayed him as unprofessional, which was a basis for him to miss the recent promotion to the Court of Appeal despite sitting for interviews before the Judicial Service Commission.

According to court records, Murangira says he was assigned in 2008 while still at Nakawa High Court, to handle a case where Beachside Development Services Ltd sued NFA for terminating its contract to construct an eco-tourism site in Kyewaga forest reserve in Entebbe before the 2007 CHOGM summit.

However, the parties settled out of court and asked the judge to assess the damages incurred by Beachside Development Services Ltd which he did at that amount (Shs4 billion).