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Age Limit: Mabirizi drags Chief Justice to High Court

By Farooq Kasule

Added 29th May 2019 07:36 PM

An order of mandamus is where a high court commands a public body to perform a public duty

Age Limit: Mabirizi drags Chief Justice to High Court

City lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi. Photo/File

An order of mandamus is where a high court commands a public body to perform a public duty

JUDICIARY

KAMPALA - City lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi has dragged the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe to the High Court over purported delayed of age limit verdict.

In an application lodged at the Civil Division of the High Court, Mabirizi is seeking an order compelling the Chief Justice to immediately deliver the age limit verdict or give him the reason why it has not yet been delivered within 60 days as required under the law.

The Chief justice is being sued in his capacity as the administrative head of the judiciary and the Supreme Court together with the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga.

"The Uganda Judicial Code of Ethics requires that where a judgment is reserved, it should be delivered within 60 days unless for good reason. However, no reasons have been provided to me by the Chief Justice despite lodging a complaint before him. Therefore, I want the High Court to issue an order of mandamus against him," Mabirizi says.

An order of mandamus is where a high court commands a public body to perform a public duty and is usually meant to compel public bodies, subordinate court, and corporation to exercise the powers given to them.

On January 16, this year, a panel of seven justices of the Supreme Court led by Katureebe concluded the hearing of the age limit appeal in which Mabirizi, Uganda Law Society and six opposition members of parliament (MPs) want the age limit amendment quashed.  

The applicants argue that it is tainted with illegalities in violation of the Constitution.

Other justices are Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza, Stella Arach Amoko, Eldad Mwangusya, Jotham Tumwesigye, Rubby Opio-Aweri, and Paul Mugamba.

However, the government through Byaruhanga wants the same court to uphold the lower court decision which allows the removal of the presidential age limit.

Mabirizi states that delayed delivery of the judgment could compel him to seek the intervention of international, continental or regional courts so that the state of rule of law in Uganda can be adjudicated upon.

He contends that since March 29, 2019, he has been visiting the office of the chief justice to get reasons why the verdict has not been given but in vain.

"Failure to give me reasons as to why the age limit judgment has not been given has consistently aggrieved me as a party to the suit to which I seek redress from the court through this application before I take another step to cause the delivery of the verdict," Mabirizi argues.

Mabirizi says that it is only fair that his application is granted such that he can make up his mind on whether or not to proceed to the international, continental and regional courts to ensure the rule of law in the country.

He also wants the court to award him general damages for the alleged inconvenience caused to him over the delayed verdict.

Mabirizi argues that delayed verdict has negatively impacted on his appeal because one of his objections to the Constitutional Court decision was the delay to deliver judgment.

The court registrar Sarah Langa is yet to summon the Chief Justice and AG to file defence against the allegations.

Immediately after filing the suit, the Supreme Court registrar Godfrey Anguandia Opifeni issued a notice indicating the verdict will be delivered on Thursday this week.

Background

On December 20, 2017, the parliament amended the Constitution which uplifted the presidential age limit and also the term of parliament to seven years which prompted Mabirizi and four others to petition the constitutional court.

On July 26, 2018, the Constitutional Court in a majority decision of 4:1 allowed the removal of Presidential age Limit and unanimously declared the extension of the term of members of parliament and local government as unconstitutional.

The Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Remmy Kasule, Elizabeth Musoke, and Cheborion Barishaki Okayed the removal of the Presidential age Limit while Justice Kenneth Kakuru dissented.

Following the judgment, the petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court seeking to declare the entire Constitutional amendment Act no.1 of 2018 null and void.  

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