KAMPALA – High Court Judge Musa Ssekaana thrown out Makerere University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor William Bazeyo on grounds that he was illegally appointed.
Prof. Anthony Mugisha who was one of the candidates dropped from the race for Makerere University Deputy Vice-Chancellor petitioned court challenging the selection for the job arguing that it was both unfair and illegitimate.
He had contended that out of the five candidates, the Search Committee found only him and Prof Bazeyo as the candidates who met the requirements for the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration.
“Instead of recommending and or forwarding the names of the said two candidates that met the criteria to the University Senate, the Search Committee took it upon itself to compare the two candidates and declared Prof. Bazeyo the best and only candidate to be appointed for the post, something that I verily believe was beyond its mandate,” Prof Mugisha states.
He then sought a declaration that the proceedings, report and recommendations of the Senate Search Committee upon which the University Senate, the University Council and the Chancellor of the first Respondent (MUK) based to appoint the 2nd Respondent (Prof Bazeyo ) as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Finance and Administration) was/is null and void.
He also sought an order of mandamus for the University to conclude the process of appointing a Deputy Vice-Chancellor, General, exemplary and punitive damages be awarded to the Applicant to be paid by the Respondents, jointly and severally.
In his ruling today June 14, Justice Ssekaana stated that the Search Committee took a decision and forwarded only one name to the University Senate for the sole purpose of endorsement and yet the University Senate is mandated under the law to take a decision without fettering their discretion in exercise of power conferred under the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act.
“The Act vested the University Senate with power to recommend a person with approval of the University Council for appointment by the Chancellor. The right to choose had to be made by the University Senate and the Search Committee choosing one or a ‘sole’ candidate and taking the power of the University Senate through transmission of the only forwarded name and not exercising any power conferred by the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act was an abuse of discretion and wrongful exercise of power,” the judge ruled.
Court also observed that the University Senate as the proper authority indeed shared its power with the Search Committee and indeed allowed it to dictate to it a candidate or submitting to its wishes or instructions of a candidate of their choice, however the discretion conferred by Parliament was wrongly exercised by the wrong authority thus the resulting decision is ultra vires and void.
The judge further stated that the Search Committee overstepped its mandate as set out in terms of reference when they only forwarded one name to the University Senate for transmission to the University Council.
Prof. Mugisha sought an order of certiorari to quash the appointment of Prof. Bazeyo as the Deputy Vice-chancellor (Finance and Administration) which court also granted.
Court also approved Prof. Mugisha an Order of Mandamus citing that he had satisfied its requirements for issuance against the 1st respondent’s(its agents or persons acting on its behalf) to comply with the statutory duty established under the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act and cause the proper appointment of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Finance and Administration).
However, the court declined to award him damages saying that Judicial review is more concerned with correcting public wrongs and not a way to demand or seek to recover damages and instead granted him costs of the application.