Judicial Commission probes rift at Supreme Court 

Photo combo: Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo and Justice Ester Kisakye. PHOTOS/ ABUBAKER LUBOWA

The recent ugly scenes of switching off power and sound systems at the Supreme Court, and accusations that Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo confiscated the dissenting ruling of Justice Esther Kisaakye, are being investigated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
The chairperson of the Commission, Justice Benjamin Kabiito in an interview with Daily Monitor, revealed that the Commission has picked interest in the matter.

“We have taken steps and are in the course of making inquiries on our own but that does not mean even if we have commenced inquiry on any matter, specific complainants touching on the matter are foreclosed, they are welcome. Beyond that, I have nothing further to say.” Justice Kabiito said at his office in Kampala on Tuesday.
The JSC is a government body, whose core mandate is to recruit and discipline errant judicial officers.

The startling events happened a week ago when nine justices were set to give their detailed rulings in the presidential petition involving Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, as he formalised the petition withdrawal against President Museveni whom he had accused of not being validly elected.
However, in the process, Justice Kisaakye was abandoned by her fellow judges when she returned to read out her dissenting ruling after a 30 minute break.

The Chief Justice and the rest of the justices reasoned that Justice Kisaakye did not share with them her ruling prior to court session and that they did not want to be ambushed with her ruling while in court. This prompted Justice Kisaakye,  in full view of the cameras, to scoff at the Chief Justice, accusing him of confiscating her file and also ordering the switching off the lights and microphones.

The judge was blocked from accessing court the following day and she was even forced to address journalists from outside the court premises on the road reserve.
Justice Kabiito condemned judicial officers who address their issues in the media without following the Public Service Standing Orders of who is authorised to speak to the media.
“As chairperson, and on behalf of all the members, we urge all judicial officers, staff of the Judiciary to refrain from media engagements and social media interactions touching the matter that is subject to inquiry in all complaints that we expect to get,” he cautioned.

Justice Kabiito also reminded all judicial officers about their oath of secrecy while they execute their duties. 
He also said the commission offices are wide open each day of the week to receive complaints against judicial officers, including the clash at the Supreme Court.
“It’s our expectation that if there is any event, circumstance that occurred for which a complaint or anyone is aggrieved, we subject them to the constitutional and legal provisions of the JSC.” Justice Kabiito said.