KAMPALA - The judiciary is to investigate the alleged disappearance of a High Court file in which Justice Anup Singh Choudry awarded over sh7bn to a group of farmers in Mubende district.
This follows a protest by Justice Choudry to the acting Chief Justice Steven Kavuma, requesting him to order for an investigation as to how the file left the office of the Chief Registrar or the office of the High Court judge.
“This phenomenon of files going missing is a symptom of corruption and litigants have to endure the injustice,” Choudry stated in his complaint to Justice Kavuma.
In his letter, a copy of which was seen by New Vision, Choudry said that he had received a letter from the Principal Judge through the Chief Registrar inquiring about the whereabouts of the file which had gone missing in the judiciary.
The file was referenced Baleke Kayira Peter versus Attorney and Kaweri Coffee plantations Limited of 2002.
‘Mafia in the judiciary’
The letter read: “Last year in March, I gave a judgment in the case in favour of the peasants of Kaweri farmers and ordered that the sh20m that they paid into court for security of costs be paid out forthwith.
“I was informed that the file was required by Nakawa court before the monies could be released. However, I was most reluctant to part with the file as I knew fully well that once this sensitive file left my chambers it would disappear, because we have mafia in the Judiciary. In the end I released the file to Nakawa court with a provision that it must be returned to my chambers.”
In the writing, Choudry said the file “was accompanied by my bodyguard, two lawyers and one lay man when it left my chambers, so that it did not drop on the way”.
He further asserted that after the Nakawa court registrar had confirmed that the file would be returned to the Chief Registrar, the then Chief registrar duly acknowledged receipt of it.
However, the judge complained that his order was not obeyed, because of some archaic procedures that delay justice in the court all the time.
The farmers had to make an application to the Court of Appeal, which also ordered the release of the security monies.
Choudry, in his letter to the acting Chief Justice, said: “But, now the farmers cannot be paid because the file is missing. I note that the lawyers for the farmers are being tossed from one place to another or from one court to another each day for the last one year.
“I fear we have mafias in the court, otherwise there is no rhyme, for such a massive file to be misplaced or to disappear.”
In an effort to get a comment from him, the Justice Kavuma – through his personal assistant, Dan Lubowa – referred New Vision to the Judiciary spokesperson, Elias Omar Kisawuzi, who expressed surprise over the alleged disappearance of the file.
“But, be that as it may, we shall cause an investigation to establish how this file left the chambers of the presiding judge to Nakawa Court registry and allegedly to the Chief Registrar and eventually allegedly got lost or went missing or misplaced, said Kisawuzi, who is also Judiciary’s registrar of planning.
“Other than the judge, I have not had an opportunity to hear from any parties or their counsel about the loss of the file,” he said.
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