Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga yesterday said she will only respect court orders that are rational but not every order.
Speaker Kadaga was responding to an earlier submission by the Attorney General William Byaruhanga at the opening of the new Law Year 2017 about the need to respect court orders.
“The Attorney General talked about respect for court orders, we shall respect them when they deserve the respect……,” Ms Kadaga charged as she made brief remarks at the High Court premises in Kampala amid clapping from the lawyers in attendance.
The call to respect court orders by the Attorney General comes at the time when dust is just settling after the two arms of government [Legislature and Judiciary] were on a collision course last month following Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma’s infamous interim order, which barred Parliament from inquiring into or questioning the Shs6b given out to some government officials as a presidential token of appreciation for their role in the successful litigation of the oil tax dispute.
Ms Kadaga described Justice Kavuma’s pronouncement as a “stupid” order and suspended the National Assembly indefinitely until that order was cancelled.
Speaker Kadaga said Justice Kavuma’s order was intended to gag the House from its oversight role, a move she said was unacceptable.
Parliament resumed after about a week when one Mr Eric Sabiiti of the Electoral Commission, upon whose petition the court order had been issued, withdrew the case, paving way for resumption of Parliamentary proceedings.
As Speaker Kadaga was responding to the submission for respect of court orders yesterday, Justice Kavuma, the judge at the center of these orders, was not present.
This was the first time that Ms Kadaga, the Kamuli District Woman MP, was publically commenting about Justice Kuvuma’s “stupid” order though she had earlier written a formal complaint to President Museveni for action against the judge of the Court of Appeal.
Ms Kadaga who is also a lawyer, further in her remarks, revealed to the legal fraternity that the Parliament’s Rules Committee has proposed that all the vetting of presidential appointees be done in public.
“I do hope that the Members of Parliament will support this proposal because it will relieve me of keeping people’s secrets. The rules of procedure require me to report to only the appointing authority and give the reasons to the authority why I rejected so and so and I cannot call a press conference and say we have rejected those people because of these reasons, I can’t do that,” Ms Kadaga said.
“So I have to keep the secrets of incompetent people, forged academic papers and land. All those are in my custody and I don’t like it. If the House can support me, I will really be very happy to let the country know what we do with in that committee.”
Under the current practice, the Appointments Committee, which vets presidential appointees, does its work behind closed doors excluding the public and media.
Given this arrangement, a human rights watchdog, Center for Legal Aid, has instituted a petition seeking to have the vetting of presidential appointees done in public and have the appointees scrutinised.
This year’s opening of the new Law Year has been done differently with representatives of the three arms of government being involved. Previously, it was only the Chief Justice who presided over it.
President Museveni was represented by his vice, Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi.
In his remarks, President Museveni decried increasing corruption in the judiciary.
He also said congestion in prisons has increased from 26.9 per cent to 45 per cent.