Big Story: Constitutional Court to Dispose of 25 Petitions in Two Weeks

The Constitutional Court has dedicated two weeks starting today to dispose of 25 cases, which have been in the system for more than two years. 

A cause signed by Mary Babirye, the Constitutional Court Acting Assistant Registrar shows that the Deputy Chief Justice, Richard Buteera, will lead a panel of five justices to handle the petitions. The other justices on the panel are Kenneth Kakuru, Catherine Bamugemereire, Christopher Madrama and Irene Mulyagonja.

Fifteen of the cause-listed petitions were filed between 2015 and 2016 while the rest were filed between 2017 and 2020. A statement from the judiciary quotes Babirye, saying the move “….is a deliberate effort to handle backlog at the Court. As of Friday, January 29th 2021, the Constitutional Court had a total of 249 pending Constitutional Petitions”.  

Some of the notable cases that have been fixed for hearing seen by URN include that filed by Unwanted Witness Uganda against Uganda Communications Commission-UCC for shutting down social media platforms during the 2016 elections.  

Another is a petition where the Ruhama County parliamentary candidate, Ntare Adens Rutaro wants the court to declare the actions of People Power and People Government pressure groups under the leadership of Robert Kyagulanyi and Dr. Kizza Besigye respectively illegal. 

Rutaro contends that the two pressure groups have been engaging in activities such as mobilizing for political reasons, which is a preserve of registered political parties, which they are not.  In another matter, Fox Odoi, the West Budama MP-elect wants the court to declare that regulation 20 Clause 21 of the Regulations for NRM Primary Elections contravene constitutional provisions for a right to a fair hearing.  

Another petition is where the Democratic Republic of Congo wants to declare that various orders made by the Ugandan High Court that led to the attachment and sale of the property belonging to the government of Zaire in Kololo and Mbuya contravened Foreign Policy objectives outlined in the second last part of the Constitution.

According to Babirye, the constitutional court session shall be held in conformity with COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures to avert the spread of the virus. “The Court will encourage only advocates and litigants in the matters to participate to avoid crowding the court hall,” she said. 

Court has ordered the lawyers of both parties to file their submission in both soft and hard copies. The constitutional court registrar, Susan Kanyange, says the court intends to hold two other Constitutional sessions during the course of this year.

Later this month, the Court of Appeal will hold a Civil Appeals Session.

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