By Spy Uganda
Kampala: The Principal Judge Dr. Flavian Zaija has ordered High Court Judge Stephen Mubiru to first clear total of 170 pending judgments and rulings before hearing any new cases.
According to the communication inked in a letter dated December 1 2023, the Principal Judge gave Justice Mubiru 60 days to clear the pending cases.
The Principal Judge revealed that the decision came after a meeting of heads of High Court divisions and Case Backlog Management Committee, on November 23 and 24 which resolved that the Principal Judge writes to all High Court judges with pending rulings and judgements after the judiciary received several complaints from litigants of delayed justice.
”As you may recall. I convened a High Court Performance Review Retreat at Imperial Golf View, Entebbe, from 23-24 November, 2023, for Heads of High Court Divisions and Circuits and the Case Backlog Committee chaired by the Hon. Deputy Chief Justice. During the retreat, I informed Heads of High Court Divisions and Circuits that my office was receiving an alarming number of complaints from litigants and Advocates against delayed delivery of judgments and rulings. It was resolved that I write to all Judges with pending judgments giving them specific deadlines to write and deliver those pending judgments and rulings” part of the letter from the Principal Judge reads.
”As at November 22, 2023, your Lordship, had 170 (one hundred and seventy) pending judgments and rulings. (enclosed is a list of all judgments and rulings pending before you). This number constitutes the biggest number of Judgments and rulings pending before a single Judge at High Court Level. The majority of those judgments and ruling have been pending before you for unreasonably long periods contrary to Principle 6.2 of the Judicial Code of Conduct which provides thus “A Judicial Officer shall promptly dispose of the business of the court… Where a judgement is reserved, it should be delivered within 60 days, unless for good reason. it is not possible to do so.” adds the letter
The Principal Judge further directed Justice Mubiru not to hear any new case of be allocated any new files until a satisfactory report is compiled to show that all the pending cases have been disposed off.
”Your allocated workload at High Court Commercial Division is effective December 05. 2023, restricted to only pending judgments and rulings. You are directed to write and deliver all pending judgments and rulings within sixty days effective December 05, 2023. During this period, you are further directed not to hear any case or be allocated any new files until a satisfactory report has been availed to this office indicating that you have written and delivered all pending judgments and rulings”. letter further noted
According to current statistics, the judiciary currently faces a backlog of 43,617 cases that have been in the system for several years.
In Uganda, a case is considered backlogged if it has spent more than two years in the justice system without being concluded by the courts of law.