KAMPALA – The newly appointed Permanent Secretary to the Judiciary Pius Bigirimana has on August 29, been dragged to court for allegedly reducing the allowances of judicial officers which had already been approved by cabinet.
An advocate and concerned citizen Hassan Male Mabirizi claims to be interested in a vibrant and functional judiciary has found Bigirimana’s decision as improper, irrational and illegal; hence petitioning the High court to quash it.
Mabirizi claims that he come across an internal memo dated 27th August 2019 by Bigirimana to all registrars, deputy registrars, assistant registrars and magistrates copied in to the chief justice, principal judge and chief registrar stopping the increasing of allowances of the officers.
The memo noted……”to correct the error and clarity that the monthly salary and judicial allowance entitlement are not one and the same. While salary may increase over time, this allowance is fixed as approved by cabinet”
However, in his application seeking to review the said decision, Mabirizi attacks Bigirimana who only assumed office late last month of stepping out of his mandate to attempt to correct a cabinet decision.
“As a Ugandan interested in Rule of Law and an independent functional, well facilitated and strong judiciary, the internal memo is outrightly illegal, irrational, unreasonable and beats common sense,” Mabirizi noted.
According to the court documents the permanent secretary to the judiciary has no powers to alter a cabinet decision which set the consolidated judicial allowance per month at the a rate of 30% of the monthly salary without cabinet sitting.
“I know that even if it was the cabinet to sit, it has no powers to vary the allowances of judicial officers to their disadvantage. I see that there is indeed no error as claimed by Bigirimana because going by the table, the cabinet approved a 30% consolidated allowance which changes with the change in the salary only that the first figure was computed basing on the then prevailing salary,” reads the court documents.
Mabirizi states that the internal memo undermines the independence of the judiciary and specifically the lower bench officers who are at the grassroots of adjudicating disputes in our societies.
He further states that it is fair, equitable in line with promotion of independence of the judiciary, accountability in public offices, transparency and promotion of Rule of Law that the application is allowed.
Mabirizi now wants the High court to quash this memo, prohibiting the Chief justice and the principle judge from acting on the same and compel public service pay the affected judicial officers their full salaries and allowances.
Mabirizi also seeks an order for damages for the inconvenience he has suffered as a result of Bigirimana issuing the said memo.
Bigirimana took over from now interdicted PS Expedito Kagole Kivumbi whom the Auditor General’s report of FY 2017-2018 pinned on numerous incidences of Financial management.