MPs Demand Sanctions Against Judges for Delayed Judgements

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Members of  the Public Accounts Committee-PAC of Parliament have tasked the Judiciary to set heavy sanctions for judicial officers who delay judgements and those that abandon duty.

This was during a Monday meeting with officials from the Judiciary led by the Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana. The team had appeared before the committee to respond to the Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2018/2019.

Before he tasked the officials to respond to the audit queries, Nathan Nandala Mafabi, the PAC Chairperson, questioned how long a judge is expected to write and deliver a judgement on a matter before him. He said that many litigants wait for decisions by court in vain.

“When a judge says I am going to write a ruling, how many years do you give him…what is the maximum time you give a judge to write a ruling, ten years or two years?” he asked, prompting Sarah Langa, the Judiciary Chief Registrar to explain that the Judicial Code of Conduct requires that a decision is delivered within 60-days after hearing of a case.

Langa said that the litigants have not had a clear place to register complaints in case a ruling is not delivered in 60-days but they have sometimes lodged complaints to the Judicial Service Commission-JSC or Judiciary Administration. She however added that the problem will now be resolved with the Performance Enhancement Tool that is currently under development.

Pius Bigirimana, the Judiciary Permanent Secretary said that the Performance Enhancement Tool will provide sanctions for the judicial officers and hold them accountable for related justice. He is optimistic that this will ultimately solve the problem of case backlog in the judicial system.

But Nandala also expressed disappointment with Judges and Magistrates who keep away from duty and obstruct the progress of cases without any communication to litigants. He said that the behaviour was disheartening and equated it to abuse of office by the judicial officers, adding that there must be a mechanism to hold them accountable.

Nandala’s sentiments were not different from those of Fredrick Angura, the Tororo South MP who demanded stringent guidelines for the judicial officers. Bigirimana acknowledged the shortfalls saying that it was morally wrong for the judicial officers to keep away from the office saying that certainly, there will be sanctioned for those who receive a salary and not work.

Bigirimana also appealed to the public to be allies of court by reporting such practices from the judicial officers.