What you need to know:
Judiciary calls for patience since court lists cases on first in, first out basis, except in exceptional circumstances.
The Constitutional Court is under scrutiny for failing to fix a date and hear the petition in which Supreme Court judge Esther Kisaakye sued Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo and half a dozen of other top Judiciary bosses over alleged victimisation.
The non-responsiveness over the past one year has seen Justice Kisaakye’s lawyers write to the court six times but in vain.
The latest reminder letter written by KBW Advocates, formerly Kwesigabo, Bamwine & Walubiri Advocates, is dated December 1.
“We represent Hon. Lady Justice Kitimbo Kisaakye, the applicant in the above matter. Reference is made to our letters of even reference dated November 10, 2023, September 23, May 16, 2023, June 7, 2023, and June 15 , 2023 were we requested that the above matter be urgently fixed for hearing,” reads in part one of the letters.
“This is to renew our prayer for early hearing dates for both constitutional petition no. 7 of 2023 and constitutional application no. 6 of 2023,” the letter adds.
Judiciary speaks out
Mr James Ereemye Mawanda, the Judiciary spokesperson, told Daily Monitor that: “The simple answer is that court cause lists on the basis of ‘first in, first out’, except in exceptional circumstances and with the approval of the court administrator and the Deputy Chief Justice.”
“Therefore, the Court of Appeal case management strategy is alive in all cases and has been discussed with guidance of the Deputy Chief Justice and shall be handled at the appropriate time. She is advised to be patient as steps to address all cases have been addressed,” he said.
In October last year, Justice Kisaakye sued the Chief Justice and five other top Judiciary bosses and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) before the Constitutional Court.
The unprecedented legal action was majorly over the events that arose out of the 2021 presidential election petition between Mr Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a Bobi Wine and President Museveni before the Supreme Court.
The other respondents include; Mr Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary of the Judiciary, Ms Sarah Langa Siu, the Chief Registrar, Ms Apophia Tumwine, the Commissioner, Human Resources of the Judiciary. The entities sued were the Judicial Service Commission and the Attorney General.
In her petition, Justice Kisaakye recounts the events that unfolded at the Supreme Court, that climaxed in her being allegedly denied by the Chief Justice to deliver her dissenting judgment.
Justice Kisaakye adds that following the unconstitutional directive and the refusal of all other justices to return to the court, she proceeded back to the courtroom to deliver her ruling.
She avers that as she returned to the courtroom, the police attached to the office of the Chief Justice, ran ahead of her and collected her files and confiscated them in the process.
Justice Kisaakye also accused the head of the Judiciary of refusing to grant her leave and assign her work.
She also claims that the Chief Justice summarily dropped her as the administrator of the court and replaced her with a junior judge, which is unconstitutional.
The Chief Justice has since denied the allegations.
“I have never confiscated, taken possession of, or kept any file belonging to the petitioner (Justice Kisaakye). What I have lawfully kept in my chambers to date, is a court file that was allocated to the petitioner as a member of the panel. Files allocated to the judicial officers remain property of the court,” the Chief Justice denied in his defence to this petition.
Mr Bigirimana was sued for allegedly having refused to release funds for her to travel to the United States for eye treatment. He was also accused of refusing to pay allowances to the judge’s driver and body guards.
Why the Judicial Service Commission was sued
Justice Kisaakye contends that on March 20, a day after the Supreme Court incident, in the absence of a complaint from anyone, the JSC commenced investigations against her, disguised as a general inquiry without observing any due process and all set procedures under the Constitution.
She further accuses the judicial body of soliciting for a complaint from the Chief Justice to support their inquiry against her over the spat at the Supreme Court.
The lawyers’ letters to the court come at the time when President Museveni has rejected the request by Justice Kisaakye to go into early retirement.
President Museveni in his October 2 response to Justice Kisaakye’s request, reasons that he can’t cause her early retirement since she is still a subject of inquiry regarding the alleged strong statements she made against Chief Justice at the tail end of the 2021 presidential poll petition hearing at the Supreme Court.
JUSTICE KISAAKYE’S PRAYER
Justice Kisaakye’s prayers to the Constitutional Court are, among others, to declare that the acts of the Chief Justice locking out the litigants, media from accessing the Supreme Court on March 19, 2021 are unconstitutional. She also wants the court to declare that the acts of Mr Bigirimana refusing to release funds to her for medical treatment are inconsistent with the Constitution. Justice Kisaakye also wants the court to declare that it’s unconstitutional for her to be dropped as the administrator of the Supreme Court and replaced by a judge who is less in seniority. The judge further implores the court to declare that its illegal for the Chief Justice to exclude her from duty roasters and cause-lists thereby, denying her work and that the same amounts to victimisation.