The Chief Justice, Alfonse C. Owiny-Dollo has said he would submit directly to the President Judiciary’s budget for the next Financial Year. He says the new budget would be as big as that of the Uganda Parliament.
“It is for us to come up with our budgetary proposal and seek to justify why it is like that,” the CJ said on Thursday at one-day symposium organized to discuss the implementation of the Administration of Judiciary Act 2020.
The Judicial Training Institute organized the activity at Mestil Hotel in Kampala, drawing participants from the Judiciary and the Justice, Law and Order Sector.
Added the CJ: “We know that we do not have the final say on the budget, but we have to generate and justify every coin that we are asking for. That is going to be the difference between our current budget and the one for the next financial year. That’s what Parliament does.”
He said owing to the new law, it is no longer a requirement for the Judiciary to follow the budgetary system where the Ministry of Finance comes up with a sealing on budgetary proposals.
“If we continue doing this, then there is no point having the Administration of the Judiciary Act and the Constitutional Court decision explaining the constitutional independence of the Judiciary,” he said.
The Chief Justice said by the end of his tenure, he wants the Court of Appeal to be resident in the four corners of Uganda, among other things.
He emphasized the need to tag performance to quality of work output to ensure that justice is served since courts are not about statistics but justice delivery. He also emphasized the need to have clear strategies on the implementation of the Act with minimal legal and coordination constraints.
Court of Appeal Justice and Chairperson of the Terms and Conditions of Service Committee, Geoffrey Kiryabwire, unpacked the 10-part Act for the participants. He also took them through the journey of the Judiciary law which he said begun in 1998.
He observed that there was a lot to be done to realize the independence of the Judiciary. These include the establishment of the Judicial Council, how to manage the Judicial Service de-linkage process.
He pointed out that the Act is silent on the retirement benefits for support staff, how to join or change service. He said it was important to know how retired Judicial Officers get on board and the Regulations and Rules that govern Judicial Service.
Prof. Fredrick Ssempebwa, who was one of the two discussants on the implication of AJA called for a full time Judicial Service Commission to meet the terms and conditions set out in the Act.
He advocated for attractive remuneration for Judiciary staff to ensure traction. In relation to this, Prof Ssempebwa called for a transparent promotion policy for Judicial Officers as one of the tools to improve efficiency.
He emphasized the need to cultivate relations with the other arms of Government to ease implementation of the Act.
Retired Supreme Court Justice, Jotham Tumwesigye, expressed his gratitude to President Museveni for his unwavering support ensure that the Act is in place in spite of hostility from sections of Government. He equally commended the efforts of the Speaker of Parliament, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Attorney General and former Deputy Attorney General.