The position of Chief Justice has already been advertised within the Judiciary by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), inviting interested eligible judges and lawyers to apply for the highest job in the country’s justice hierarchy.
The internal advert was posted on the JSC website on Monday. The position will fall vacant in June this year when Chief Justice Bart Katureebe retires at the age of 70.
Interested applicants have up to January 31 to apply, according to the advert.
“Applications are invited from suitable and eligible Ugandan citizens to fill the following vacant positions available in the financial year 2020/21 in Courts of Judicature,” reads in part the advert.
Also advertised is the position of Chief Registrar. This position fell vacant late last year after the office bearer, Esta Nambayo, was appointed High Court judge.
Likewise, the JSC has advertised six slots for court registrars and two positions for deputy registrars.
Late last year, many registrars were elevated to the High Court Bench, leaving a big manpower gap that has to be filled.
According to the JSC announcement, those interested in applying for the position of Chief Justice should be Ugandan citizens with at least a Bachelor’s degree in Law and a post graduate diploma in legal practice from Law Development Centre (LDC) or its equivalent.
The applicants must have also served as justices of the Supreme Court or a court having similar jurisdiction or has practised as an advocate for not less than 20 years in a court of unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters.
The applicants have also been asked to submit at least four samples of judgments they have written or any legal publication or writing they have made.
The Chief Justice supervises the Judiciary and is responsible for the administration of all courts in the country. The CJ presides over sittings of the Supreme Court and issues orders and directives necessary for proper and efficient running of courts.
Meanwhile, the new Principal Judge, Dr Flavian Zeija, could be the youngest administrative head of the High Court, having been appointed to the position at the age of 50.
Justice Zeija’ s two-decade legal experience has mainly been in private practice and academia.
The position of the principal judge is the third top most in the Judiciary after the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice.
The Constitution demands that a person eligible to be appointed principal judge must have practices as an advocate for not less than 15 years before court of unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters or should have served as a justice of Court of Appeal or a judge of the High Court.
At the time of his appointment, Justice Zeija was the resident judge at Mbarara High Court circuit having worked there for over three years. He was appointed High Court judge in 2016.
Justice Zeija has a doctorate of laws (PhD) from Dar es Salaam University in Tanzania.
“It is a remarkable achievement of an outstanding judicial officer with demonstrated integrity throughout the tenure of his service. We believe that he has the capacity to steer the chambers of the PJ,” a source in JSC said shortly after Justice Zeija’s appointment last year.
The new head of the High Court is also coming in at a time when the Judiciary has been accused of corruption scandals especially at the lower Bench. Last week two magistrates were ordered to appear before a disciplinary committee to respond to allegations of corruption.
In an exclusive interview, the outgoing principal judge, Dr Yorokamu Bamwine, said his successor has unfinished business to handle, which include huge case backlog in the court system and space to accommodate more than 200 suspects in the King Mumbere trial.
The other unfinished business that the new principal judge has to complete is the sentencing guidelines for petty offences and reviewing the sentencing guidelines for capital offences, his predecessor started but left unconcluded.