How judges scored during lockdown

Monday June 29 2020

Principal Judge Flavian Zeija says he is yet to

Principal Judge Flavian Zeija says he is yet to receive the report.  

By ANTHONY WESAKA

The Civil Division of the High Court disposed of 356 cases both online and in open courtroom during the lockdown, a Judiciary performance report indicates.

The report by Deputy Registrar Sarah Langa assessed the period from March 18 to June 19 .

It showed the case disposal rate was at a 108 percentage, translating into 356 completed cases out of 329 registered.

The performance rating is for only the Civil Division, which was the busiest section of the High Court. The Criminal Division was less active as it was highly impeded by the lockdown as lawyers could not move to court to prosecute cases .

The report indicates that Justice Musa Ssekaana delivered the most rulings (113). He is followed by Justice Esta Nambayo at 94 while the head of the High Court Civil Division, Justice Andrew K Bashaija, came third with 42 judgments.

Justice Michael Elubu completed 15 decisions while Justice Emmanuel Baguma delivered 01 decision.

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The report also shows three judges were on transfer during the lockdown but they returned to the Civil Division to deliver their pending rulings. They include justices Patricia Basaza Wasswa, currently at Mukono and Justice Lydia Mugambe at the High Court Criminal Division.

Justice Henrietta Wolayo is the head of Bailiffs and Execution Division of the High Court.

Justice Baguma’s performance, according to an insider, was attributed to the fact he had just been posted to the Civil Division in the latest reshuffle in December last year, and he was also on sick leave.

However, the report does not show how many cases were pending before each judge at the beginning of the lockdown. According to the Judiciary’s Schedule of Duties, each judge is supposed to hear and complete 300 cases per year.

Some of the prominent decisions delivered by the judges during the lockdown include Justice Mugambe’s ruling that Ugandans in diaspora and prison have a right to participate and vote in general elections.

Justice Mugambe ordered the Electoral Commission to ensure the affected group of persons vote in the coming 2021 polls.

The other decision was by Justice Elubu who ordered MPs to return the controversial Shs20m that Parliament paid them purportedly for Covid-19 activities.

When contacted on whether there would be any action on judges whose performance falls below the expectation, Principal Judge Flavian Zeija said he could not give a conclusive comment since he had not yet seen the report.

Yet to see report
“I have not seen that report as I have been busy in northern Uganda. However, I am interested in performance. We are developing a judicial performance tool and if it wasn’t Covid-19 disruptions, we would be having it in place,” said Justice Zeija on Sunday.

“If the performance tool is developed, those who will fall below it, will have to try their talent elsewhere,” he added.

In a recent interview, the Principal Judge urged justices to work hard to reduce backlog since their welfare, including their retirement benefits have been enhanced.

A High Court judge currently earns a monthly salary of Shs23m.

In the recently passed Administration of the Judiciary Act, every judge will, among other benefits, retire with 80 per cent of their monthly salary, which will be paid to them for life.

Cases handled during lockdown

Judge Cases handled
Justice Musa Ssekaana 113
Justice Esta Nambayo 94
Justice Andrew Bashaija 42
Justice Lydia Mugambe 21
Justice Henrietta Wolayo 20
Justice Michael Elubu 15
Justice Patricia Basaza 3
Justice Emmanuel Baguma 1
Asst. Registrar, Dr. Alex Karocho 25
Deputy Registrar, Sarah Langa Siu 18
Mediator, Christopher Rukyalekere 3
Mediator, Jolly Nkore 1
Total: 356 decisions delivered in lockdown

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