By Spy Uganda
Court has declared that it is illegal for Parliament or its committees to review court orders and judgments, because it contradicts the concept of separation of powers and is tantamount to contempt court.
This comes after High Court Judge Andrew Bashaija ruled in a judgment on Friday that “No constitutional power resides in Parliament or it committees to call for review or scrutiny of the decisions of courts of law. To do so would be for Parliament to constitute itself into an appellate body over decisions of courts and usurp such powers not vested in the legislature.”
Justice Byabashaija’s ruling stemmed from a petition challenging the decision of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) demanding the Solicitor General and Attorney General to produce details of court judgments where government lost cases, so that they can be reviewed by the committee.
However, three people Jamada Baligobye, Augustine Ceaser Luseesa and John M Nsubuga accused PAC of overstepping its mandate by seeking to review court judgements and hence petitioned ruled court, which has since declared that it’s illegal for Parliament to review court decisions, orders, declarations and judgements.
The judgments contained court orders compelling government to pay the compensations awarded to complainants.
The probe came about after PAC realized that government lost hundreds of bilioms and was ordered to compensate the complainants. On August 26 last year, PAC asked for dates of judgments, the trial judges and lawyers involved and the compensation amounts awarded.
The PAC chairperson was jointly sued with the Attorney General, the Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary/ Secretary to the Treasury.
But Justice Bashaija said PAC’s decision is illegal and offends the doctrine of separation of powers and independence of the Judiciary.
“A declaration doth issue that the directions, requisitions, orders and or decision by the chairperson of PAC in the proceedings to be availed details of mandamus payments for scrutiny and reviewing including case determination dates, lawyers involved, presiding judges of court awards amounts to interference with execution orders, is contemptuous, illegal, ultra vires, unconstitutional and a direct affront of the doctrine of separation of powers,” he ruled.
Among the cases that PAC wanted to review is the case Bank of Uganda had filed against tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia on behalf of the defunct Crane Bank, alleging that the tycoon had siphoned Shs397Bn from Crane Bank before it was wound up and sold to dfcu Bank.
The Central Bank is set to pay almost a trillion in legal costs and damages to Dr Sudhir and his Co-accused after they lost the case last year, following Commercial Court Justice David Wangutusi’s ruling, in which he ruled that the case had no merit because Crane Bank under Receivership had no capacity to sue or be sued.
He also ruled that BoU’s winding up, closure and consequent sale of Crane Bank to dfcu Bank when it was still under receivership was illegal, hence null and void.