Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | At least 122 matters shall be handled by the Court of Appeal or Constitutional Court in a period of one month starting Monday April 26, 2021.
According to a judiciary statement, the cases to be handled consist of 39 constitutional petitions, and 22 applications, 43 civil appeals, and 18 applications. Among the 43 civil appeals to be handled are two election petitions filed in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
A total of eight Justices led by the Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera will be taking part in the two sessions.
“The Deputy Chief Justice, Justices Geofrey Kiryabwire, Elizabeth Musoke, Hellen Obura and Monica Mugenyi will preside over the Constitutional petitions, while Justices; Barishaki Cheborion, Stephen Musota and Christopher Madrama will handle the Civil Appeals,” the Ag Assistant Registrar Court of Appeal Mary Babirye said in the statement.
She adds that the court will rely on written submissions and that oral presentations in court will make clarifications court may need.
In the Civil Appeals session, two election petition appeals filed last year and this year are equally going to be handled.
Court of Appeal Registrar Susan Kanyange says according to the workplan of the court, three Constitutional petitions sessions will be held this year (this being the second), with the last one planned to be held later this year.
She says that the Justices plan to hold at least 18 sessions (Constitutional Petitions-3, Civil Appeals-6, Criminal Appeals-6, Appellate Mediation-1, Criminal Applications-1 and Civil Applications- 1) this year with a view of reducing backlog at the appellate court. As of April 13, there were 7,479 pending cases at the court.
Among the Constitutional petitions to be handled this month is a matter filed by the Centre for Public Interest Law and two others against the Attorney General where they are seeking the court’s interpretation that Section 6(a) of the Press and Journalists Act, Cap 105 is inconsistent with and or in contravention of Article 29 (1) (a) and (b) of the Constitution in as far as it is unduly restrictive and vague in requiring a proprietor and an editor to ensure that what is published is not contrary to public morality. Article 29 deals with protection of freedom of conscience, expression, movement, religion, assembly and association.
In another matter, Bonafacio Mulugga and six others have dragged the Attorney General to the court citing that long post committal detention of petitioners and other detainees similarly detained without trial, is inconsistent with and or in contravention of Article 28(1), 28(3) (a) and 44 (c) of the Constitution which guarantees the right to a fair hearing.
The Attorney General has equally dragged Forum for Democratic Change to court on the act of carrying out a defiance campaign with aim of obtaining control of the government of Uganda which is inconsistent with and or in contravention of Article 1(1), 1(3), 1(4), 2(1) and 3(1) of the Constitution.
Among the Civil Appeals to be handled is that of former Busia chairperson Ouma Odea, who is seeking court intervention to reinstate him as chairperson LC V.
Ms Babirye emphasized the fact that Covid-19 SOPs will be followed during the sessions in line with earlier guidelines issued by the Chief Justice.
During the opening of the ongoing Criminal Appeals session in Masaka, the Deputy Chief Justice said the Court of Appeal/Constitutional Court has 14 Justices who are few compared to the workload.
He said there are ongoing engagements with the Executive and Parliament to ensure that there are regional courts of Appeal which will ease the management of the matters before the Court.