KAMPALA. The Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma has, without giving reasons, taken three judges off an election petition case on the eve of its hearing and removed the case altogether from the cause list (list of cases fixed for hearing).
The abrupt decision, communicated through an internal memo, has prompted Isodo & Co Advocates, a law firm representing the appellant, to question Justice Kavuma’s motive since they had not complained about the three judges on the panel.
The judges who were scheduled to hear Stella Apolot Isodo’s appeal challenging the election of Jacqueline Amongin (Ngora District Woman MP) were Justices Remmy Kasule, Kenneth Kakuru and Helen Obura.
“This is to confirm my instructions to you this morning that the same (election appeal) be de-cause listed pending further instructions,” Justice Kavuma’s wrote in an internal memo. He added: “By copies of this memo, my lords the justices on the coram are hereby advised. You may also consider advising the parties accordingly before they come for the hearing earlier fixed.”
Justice Kavuma heads both the Court of Appeal which also sits as the Constitutional Court when hearing a constitutional matter.
Demand for explanation
In their complaint letter to Justice Kavuma, the lawyers asked him to explain why he removed the judges from the appeal.
“We turned up ready for the hearing and got shocking news that your lordship had de-cause listed the appeal citing earlier discussions and/or instructions to the deputy registrar, a copy of which memo we obtained,” Amongin’s lawyers wrote.
“On our part, we have not objected to the coram (panel)… and apparently counsel for the respondent has never copied any protest in respect of the coram as constituted,” they added.
Isodo & Co Advocates law firm further contends that Justice Kavuma’s decision has created confusion about “what on earth is going on”.
“We seek an explanation why the learned justices of Appeal have apparently been relieved of their duties in respect to this appeal which by implication amounts to disbandment,” the lawyers stated.
The latest complaint against Justice Kavuma comes in the wake of slow disposal of more than 100 election petition appeals which, by law, should be decided within six months from the time they were filed in the Court of Appeal.
This period lapses in the next couple of months yet the Court of Appeal, which is the last appellate court for parliamentary election petitions, had by yesterday disposed of only five appeals.