The Uganda Law Society (ULS), acting under its mandate to advise and guide the Public and Government on all legal and related issues has appealed to the Speaker of Parliament, Hon Rebecca Kadaga and the Attorney General, Hon William Byaruhanga to respect each other so that ” the public does not lose confidence in the office bearers or the institutions.”
The Society’s advice comes a day after the two Senior Government Officials bitterly clashed on the floor of Parliament over the interpretation and execution of a Court Order issued by the High Court at Kampala on Tuesday halting (pending the determination of the main suit in which the allocation is challenged) the controversial pay out of 10 Billion Shillings from the Country’s Coronavirus supplementary budget to Members of Parliament apparently to enable them carry out oversight functions and sensitisation work surrounding the deadly Pandemic.
” While we are aware of the Supreme Court decision in Hon. Theodore Ssekikubo & Ors v Attorney General, Constitutional Appeal No. 01 of 2015, where it was held that:
‘ … the principle of separation of powers should be duly observed to avoid erosion of the Constitutional functions of the other arms of Government… the effect of interpreting the opinion of the Attorney General, a member of the Executive, relating particularly, to the manner in which the Speaker of Parliament, the head of the legislative arm of Government, should carry out his/ her constitutional functions, as binding clearly violates the principle of separation of powers’,
” our advice on this matter is that the Attorney General’s opinion and Parliament’s right to disagree with it should be respected.
“However, we urge Parliament to use legally established methods of addressing circumstances where they disagree with such advice.” The Uganda Law Society President Mr Simon Peter Kinobe said in a Statement.
The Attorney General Mr Byaruhanga in his capacity as the Principal legal adviser to Government and at the behest of the Speaker advised the House during the Thursday plenary that it would be contempt of court for it to proceed with the 10 Billion pay out before the High Court determines the main suit challenging its legality.
” The court’s decision is binding until it is reversed, any action to the contrary will expose that person to contempt of court” He said.
However, his advice was overruled on ground that the High Court ruling was overtaken by events as some of the MPs had already received and probably used the money by the time the Court order was issued and secondly, that the Court could not interfere with the supplementary budget- more so, when Parliament was not a party to the Suit.
The Speaker also accused the Attorney General of “poor legal representation.”
” I and most MPs have disagreed with the Attorney General’s view that none of the lawmakers can use the 20M Shillings on their bank accounts. From a legal perspective, none of the MPs were party to the suit ” Hon Rebecca Kadaga shot back.
“The Judgement was not on MPs’ bank accounts. We have always complained about poor legal representation by the Attorney General. The Cash was wired on 17th April while the Suit was filed on the 21st. I therefore beg to differ ”
According to the Law Society, these were “statements meant to undermine the [ Judiciary] and should be avoided”
” Orders issued by the Courts of law should be respected, they are binding regardless of whether any party finds them unreasonable or otherwise ” Mr Simon Peter says,
“The Judiciary as an institution must be respected, it is one of the three arms of Government and so statements meant to undermine it in any way should be avoided. Any party aggrieved by a court order should use established legal procedures to expunge or quash it, but until that order is reversed by another order it should be respected.”