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Court summons Mukesh over payment of election petition costs

Mukesh Shukla in court. URN photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | High Court in Kampala has summoned Mukesh Shukla Babubhai, the former Nakawa West Parliamentary candidate to explain why he shouldn’t be jailed for failure to pay costs arising from his election petition.

According to the summons issued by the High Court Civil Division Deputy Registrar, Jameson Karemani, the businessman cum politician is required to appear before the court on July 12th, 2022.

This follows a successful application by Mukesha’s rival and Nakawa West MP, Joel Ssenyonyi filed through PACE Advocates. Trouble for Mukesh started when he dragged Ssenyonyi to court after losing the Nakawa West Parliamentary elections on January 14th, 2021. Ssenyonyi who ran on the National Unity Platform-NUP ticket won the polls with 30,847 votes. Mukesh came sixth after polling 806 votes.

Dissatisfied with the poll results, Mukesh petitioned the High Court accusing Ssenyonyi of committing several electoral offenses such as ballot stuffing and failing to sign the declaration of results forms with support from the Electoral Commission. He accused Ssenyonyi of stuffing ballots at 8 polling stations where he got 81 instead of 58 votes. However, High Court Judge Isaac Muwata dismissed the application in October 2021 with costs for lack of sufficient evidence.

Muwata reasoned that even if Mukesh had proved any of the grounds, which he didn’t, such irregularities wouldn’t have affected the elections in a substantial manner. According to Muwata, even if Mukesh had won at all the eight contested polling stations, he would still not change his fortunes from being the 6th to the eventual winner.

However, prior to the hearing of his application, Mukesh filed two applications in which he sought permission to amend his petition and introduce new allegations against Ssenyonyi, which were all dismissed with costs. As a result, Mukesh appealed against the High Court decision.

However, the Court of Appeal panel comprising Justices Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Stephen Musota, and Christopher Gashirabake confirmed the high court decision and dismissed the application on grounds that it was filed out of the 14 days stipulated time within which to file election matters.

The Justice Kiryabwire-led panel added that Mukesh also filed an application seeking to extend the time within which to file his appeal but the same application was not served to Ssenyonyi nor his lawyers. As if this was not enough, the Justices also noted that Mukesh’s lawyers had neither signed the application nor the affidavit accompanying it. The court condemned Mukesh to pay Ssenyonyi and the Electoral Commission the costs of the election petition.

Mukesh was subsequently ordered to pay the two respondents half of the costs in the Appeal case following the loss. As a result, Ssenyonyi’s lawyers demanded Shillings 230 million in costs for the two applications at High Court and the main petition as a whole. After taxation, the court endorsed a bill of Shillings 81 million for Ssenyonyi in the High Court.

This bill excludes one from the Electoral Commission, which their lawyer Eric Sabiiti says will be filed soon before the court for taxation. This also excludes the bill for both Ssenyonyi and the Electoral Commission before the Court of Appeal. Although the Commission hasn’t yet filed its bill before the Court of Appeal, Ssenyonyi’s lawyer George Musisi says they asked for Shillings 170 million.



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