The Supreme Court has ordered government to pay Butambala Member of Parliament (MP) Muwanga Kivumbi court costs for a case he won in 2005.
In a judgment read by Justice Lillian Tibatemwa of the Supreme Court, said the award of costs is a legal matter and calls for adjudication.
“It therefore follows that the panel should have pronounced itself on the matter in a formal court proceeding and not through an administrative process,” she ruled.
She ordered that Kivumbi be granted costs in the Supreme Court and in the court below (Constitutional Court).
Kivumbi run to the Supreme Court in 2008 after the Constitutional Court denied him court costs following his victory against government.
He had challenged the constitutionality of Section 32 of the Police Act (Cap 303) which empowered the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to prohibit the convening of any assembly or procession on any public road, street or any place of public resort, if the IGP had reasonable grounds to believe the assembly or procession was likely to cause a breach of the peace.
Court held ruled in his favour that indeed there was no doubt that the power given to the IGP was prohibitive rather than regulatory. Further, the court found that the powers given to the IGP to prohibit the convening of an assembly or procession were an unjustified limitation on the enjoyment of a fundamental right. Such limitation was not demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic country like ours.
In her lead judgment, Byamugisha JCC allowed the petition with costs. Learned Justices GM Okello and C.N Kitumba concurred with the judgment of Justice Byamugisha “in its entirety” but made no specific reference to the order of costs therein. Mpagi-Bahigiene, JCC specifically stated that she was in full agreement with Justice Byamugisha’s opinion in regard to the impugned section but was silent on the order given in regard to costs.
However, he was denied costs to the petitioner on ground that the matter was filed in public interest.
Following this, the appellant’s counsel wrote a letter to the Deputy Chief Justice to have the award of costs clarified. On behalf of the court, Byamugisha JCC responded to the letter as follows: “The above matter was referred to me by the Deputy Chief Justice regarding costs of the petition. Only two justices awarded costs. The majority of the judges did not. Consequently, the petitioner got no costs. There is nothing to correct under the slip rule.”
The other judges on the panel then were Mukasa-Kikonyogo DCJ, Galdino Moro Okello, Mpagi-Bahigiene, Christine Kitumba and Constance Kategaya Byamugisha JJC.
Justices Mpagi Bahigeine and Constance Kategaya Byamugisha have since died.