By Andante Okanya
The High Court in Kampala has summoned the Parliamentary Commission over allegations that 41 legislators in the eighth Parliament received half pay as their tenure expired in May 2011.
In the summons dated July 3, 2014, assistant registrar of the court Eleanor Khainza, ordered the commission to file its defence within 15 days.
She cautions that failure to do so could risk the commission facing the wrath of justice, as its pleadings would not be a part of the court record.
“Should you fail to file a defence on or before the date, the plaintiff may proceed with the suit and judgment may be given in your absence,” the orders states in part.
The Parliamentary commission is the body tasked with steering the administration of Parliament.It is chaired by the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and has seven other members.
These are the Leader of Government Business(Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi),Leader of Opposition(Wafula Oguttu), and Finance minister(Maria Kiwanuka).
The four commissioners elected among the MPs, are Reagan Okumu(Aswa County), Rosemary Seninde(Wakiso Woman MP) Rose Akol(Bukedea Woman MP), and Wilson Nokrach(MP for people with disabilities northern Uganda).
The case arose when two former legislators Livingstone Okello-Okello(Chua County) and Simon Toolit Okecha(Omoro County) petitioned court over salary arrears.
On their behalf and that of 39 others, they contend that they were only paid for 59 and half months out of the mandatory 60 months in the entire five-year term.
The term of the eighth Parliament commenced on May 19, 2006, and expired on May 1 Each MP in the eighth Parliament earned about sh20m monthly.
Their total income included basic pay, subsistence allowances, travelling allowances, sitting allowances, sitting allowances for committee sessions, motor vehicle allowances, car purchase allowances, and grants.8, 2011.
They are seeking a court declaration that they are entitled to full pay, interest on the amounts withheld since May 2011, till full payment.
Additionally, they are also demanding general damages for breach of contract, arguing that they received half pay of their salary and emoluments without any justification.
This is the second attempt by the two former legislators to seek the assistance of court to compel the commission to pay.
On February 6 this year, they filed the case and sought permission to sue on behalf of the 240 purportedly aggrieved colleagues.
But the civil division registrar Charles Emuria dismissed it after Parliamentary Commission lawyer Sitna Cherotich said Kadaga had instructed her to tell court that she was not part of the move.
Consequently, it was dismissed on the technicality that one of the supposed backers, had disowned the claim.
However, the duo through Mwere and Company Advocates filed a fresh application for permission to sue.
Accordingly on May 23, court presided by Justice Yasin Nyanzi granted it. Court is yet to schedule a hearing date.
On Tuesday, when New Vision asked Parliament spokesperson Hellen Kaweesa, whether the commission had received the summons, she said she would seek clarity from the legal department.
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Court summons Parliamentary commission over MPs pay