The Court of Appeal has dismissed with costs an application lodged to it by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s land probe to stay court consent where government accepted compensate owners of the land it had acquired from them to the tune of about Shs9.7 billion.
President Museveni on February 21.2017 swore in the Lands Inquiry Commission led by Justice Bamugemereire as Chairperson with the responsibility of evaluating the effectiveness of Law, Policies and Processes of land acquisition, Land Administration, Land Management as well as land registration in Uganda.
In the application, the Commission claimed the land deals were dubious and that if government paid the money, it would lose much more in the future.
However, in their written ruling delivered on April 17, 2019, Justices Kenneth Kakuru, Stephen Musota and Christopher Madrama said they found no merit in the application, noting that orders issued by the executive however well intended cannot legally stay decisions of any Court of Law. Interestingly, Bamugemereire is a member of same court though now she doesn’t execute court work as she is she chairs the land commission.
“We find that the orders sought to be stayed are not capable of being executed and we declined to grant them,” part of the ruling based on the application lodged in by Dr. Douglas Singiza, Secretary to the Commission of Inquiry into land matters…in November last year, seeking to stay all court orders related to government paying land owners in deals that are questionable.
They also added that judgments of the court cannot be stayed, reviewed or otherwise compromised by orders issued by the executive, noting that would a blatant constitutional error, further stating that the constitution requires the legislature and executive arms of government to uphold the independence of the judiciary.
The three justices also ruled that government consented to compensate the payees in civil suit No 550 of 2016 and as such the consent cannot be stayed except in an application to set is aside, noting that the application was misconceived by the applicant.
The justices further rubbished the application, saying that the judicial processes are corrected with the same judicial process where reviews, revision, appeals and even disciplinary measures are taken to ensure that errors made are corrected.