KAMPALA: The Constitutional Court has reduced from Shs13 billion to Shs20m, a court award that was granted to lawyer Severino Twinobusingye.
The former Deputy Registrar of the court of Appeal Elias Kisawuzi in 2013 awarded the lawyer the huge sum for representing then Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kuteesa and Internal Affairs minister Hillary Onek.
The three were challenging a Parliament decision for them to vacate their offices on allegations of bribery in the oil sector.
Justice Kenneth Kakuru set aside the huge award saying it was excessive to be awarded in a constitutional petition which was brought in the spirit of public interest.
“There was nothing special about this constitutional petition because two of the issues were not argued having been conceded to by the Attorney General and the judgment had 28 pages. There were a few documents filed and exchanged and therefore I wonder where the justification for an award of Shs12 billion come from,” Justice Kakuru ruled.
The judge also noted that the Shs12 billion is too much for an ordinary Ugandan who may be unsuccessful in public interest cases since it will also mean that the Chief justice, who has Just had his monthly salary Increased to Shs20 million will have to work for 83 years or 1,000 months to be able to pay this bill.
In December 2012 , lawyers John Mary Mugisha and Chris Bakiiza successfully pleaded before registrar Kisawuzi that the petition was complex , involved long hours of perusal and filing of documents hence filing a bill of Shs23 billion which court reduced to Shs12 billion.
However the Attorney General, who was the respondent in this petition, appealed against this taxation award on grounds that the petition was simple because he conceded to two of the issues; that Parliament had no right to ask the ministers vacate their respectice offices or set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate them on allegations of bribery without according then an opportunity to defend themselves.
The Attorney General further told court that the registrar made the award without putting into consideration that the money was to be drawn from the consolidated fund , hence asking court to reduce it.
Five justices led by the then former Deputy Chief Justice Alice Mpagi Baheigeine heard the petition which partially succeeded and awarded two out of three of the costs to Severino to be shared between his two lawyers .