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Slap in the face! Health Minister ordered to pay UGX20M fine

Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng ordered to pay UGX20M fine. (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – Justice Musa Ssekaana of the High Court in Kampala has ordered the Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng to pay a fine of Shs20million for disobeying court orders.

Justice Ssekaana had on August 24, 2018, issued orders directing Dr. Aceng to issue an instrument facilitating David Ekau, pharmacists to be inaugurated to serve as a representative of the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda to the National Drug Authority (NDA).

He also ordered the 2nd respondent (Minister of Health) to ensure that Ekau takes up his role as a member of NDA within 30 days from the date of the ruling of August 24, 2018, and cost of the application to which they filed an appeal in dissatisfaction.

The orders come after Ekau filing an application seeking for judicial review against the Minister and the Attorney General to quash their decision of the Minister that was embedded in her letter dated May 19, 2017, barring him from being inaugurated to serve as a representative of the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda to NDA.

Ekau filed another application in the same court seeking to hold the three respondents (Dr Aceng, the Minister of Health and Attorney General) in contempt of court.

In his ruling, Justice Sekaana said the Minister’s action was in total disregard of the rule of law and leads to anarchy adding that she was obliged to comply with the court order that compelled her to have Ekau sworn in.

The Judge explained that a court order is not a mere suggestion or an opinion or a point of view but rather a directive that is issued after much thought and with circumspection and it must, therefore, be complied with.

Justice Ssekaana further explained that he finds that the respondents’ justification for not complying with the orders of this court by way of filing an appeal and the subsequent application for stay of execution as well as an interim stay of execution untenable, baseless and devoid of merit.

“The respondents were already in contempt of court when the 30 days directed by this court within which to comply with the court’s orders elapsed. This implies that when the Court issued an Order on 24th August 2018, the same had to be complied with by 23rd September 2018. The respondents filed an application for stay of execution on the 30th October 2018 which was over 37 days after the expiry of the period they had been ordered to comply with the Order,” the Judge noted.

Adding that, “…the respondents cannot, therefore, hide behind the justification of filing an appeal.”

The Judge noted that it would be futile for a court to issue orders that are not effective owing to the parties’ disobedience of such orders, and yet the court continues to issue such other orders on top of those already issued but disobeyed.

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