A member of parliament cannot lose their seat in the House upon expulsion from their party, Supreme Court has ruled.
In a six to one decision on whether expulsion of an MP from a political party amounts to vacating one’s seats in Parliament, the Supreme Court judges also ruled that the advice of the attorney general is not binding on the speaker of parliament as earlier argued in court.
“Political parties cannot subvert the will of the people,” ruled the judges, throwing court audience into jubilation.
Court was presided over by justices Jotham Tumwesigye, Benjamin Odoki, Galdino Okello, John Tsekooko, Christine Kitumba and Esther Kisaakye have issued a judgement.
The move results from an appeal in which four MPs, Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East), Mohammed Nsereko (Kampala Central) and Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga) are challenging the Constitutional Court’s decision that directed them to vacate their seats in Parliament.
On February 21, 2014, the court ordered the legislators out of Parliament and declared their seats vacant.
The group had been expelled by the top organ of the ruling NRM after they were implicated over indiscipline and breach of the party code of conduct. They had, however, challenged their expulsion in the High Court.
The NRM party and two members, Lt Saleh Kamba (Kibuku Constituency) and Mariam Agasha petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, on the ruling that the four expelled MPs retain their seats in Parliament.
The NRM and the two MPs had argued that the May 2 ruling by Ms Kadaga that the four legislators could not vacate their respective seats when they are neither independents nor members of the Opposition and in effect allocated them special seats, contravenes the Constitution.