KAMPALA – Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe has refuted accusations by leadership of Parliament that the orders by the High Court to MPs to return the Shs10Bn meant to fight Coronavirus is an attack on the Legislature.
His statement is in response to a rant by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga accusing Judiciary of usurping powers of Parliament when High Court ordered MPs to return the controversial UGX10b/Shs20m or hand it over to their respective district taskforce on Covid-19.
Katureebe said “There is no attack by the Judiciary to the Parliament. It is not possible, desirable and it will not happen. Who does this quarrel in the public serve? Once a court has given an order, whether to the Parliament or the Executive, it must be respected. Parliament and the government must realize that we are all acting on behalf of Ugandans.”
In an interview with NBS Television on Thursday morning, CJ castigated Kadaga for sending the two MPs, Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality) and Jonathan Odur (Erute County) to the Parliament’s Rules, Privilege and Discipline for Investigation, after dragging Parliament to court over the same.
He also said that the two MPs have the constitutional right to seek redress from court in case they’re aggrieved.
“If an MP feels something has gone wrong in Parliament and he comes to court, why is it termed as an attack when the court gives a ruling for the money to stay where it is until issues are solved? We adjudicate matters that come before us. Anybody who feels their rights have been violated is entitled to come to court and nobody should be made to feel it is wrong to seek justice,” said that Chief Justice.
Katureebe also took a swipe at the Executive for sidelining the request to increase the number of judges in preference for increasing size of Parliament noting, “I feel embarrassed that you can have over 500 MPs but not 80 judges of the high court. We need to have the commercial courts strengthened. If your entire budget is going to infrastructure, make sure you have sufficient systems to solve the disputes that come up.”
Katureebe also discussed the case backlog in Uganda, describing it as a challenge he inherited from his predecessor and is still existing, but the case isn’t only unique in Uganda, but across the globe.
He said, “The challenge is for everyone including the law enforcement agencies to realize the importance of enforcing the constitution of Uganda. Whenever someone is arrested, he should be brought to court within 48 hours. This rule is for our own good and has to be respected. People are entitled to a speedy trial.”