Cast net wider against errant judicial officers

Friday April 19 2019

Dismissed. Ms Grace Balin

Dismissed. Ms Grace Balintuma at Buganda Road Court last year 

By Editor

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has dismissed a Grade One Magistrate, Ms Grace Balintuma, from the service with immediate effect for being habitually corrupt and abusing her judicial power.

The commission after receiving several complaints against magistrate Balintuma and upon carrying out investigations, found out that she was a habitual offender who is no longer “fit” and “proper” to hold out as a judicial officer. The resolution by the JSC was reached at a meeting held on September 27, 2018.

Dr Rose Nassali Lukwago, the JSC Permanent Secretary, vowed to cast the net wider in a bid to catch both real and perceived corrupt officials in the Judiciary.

“The commission is committed to cleaning up the Judiciary of those judicial officers who don’t execute their duties according to the prescribed Judicial Code of Conduct,” Dr Nassali said.

Statistics obtained from the JSC indicate that in January 2017, there were 614 complaints lodged against judicial officers.
The statistics further show that by March 30, 2019, they had received slightly more than 300 more complaints. Out of these figures, the commission had heard the complaints and reduced them to 220 which are now pending disposal.
The decision to fire magistrate Balintuma is a step in the right direction.

However, her being sacrificed and leaving out many other corrupt and errant judicial officers still holding offices is unfair and discriminatory.


Likewise, why should as many as 10 complaints first be brought against a particular judicial officer before the JSC, a government body that is mandated to recruit and discipline errant officers, can swing into action to dismiss them?
The handling of the judicial officers with soft gloves by the commission could be aiding the continued impunity and corruption in the Judiciary.

The policy should be that once a complaint has been lodged against a particular judicial officer and they are found culpable, a severe punishment should be meted out quickly.

There has also been a tendency of some errant judicial officers being transferred to a hard-to-reach duty station as a form of punishment instead of dismissing them from service. Such transfers merely translate into transferring problems to another location.
Nevertheless, we applaud the JSC for cracking the whip to clean up a tainted Judiciary. In the same vain, we implore other government entities to borrow a leaf if we are to have a meaningful fight against corruption that has since become cancerous.