The Deputy Chief Justice, Richard Buteera, has embarked on a Case Backlog Assessment field visits, starting with Mbarara, Kabale and Masaka High Court circuits.
The DCJ, who doubles as Chairperson of the Case Backlog Monitoring Committee, started his visit at Mbarara High Court where he was received by Resident Judge Joyce Kavuma and Ag. Deputy Registrar Samuel Twakire.
His visit was to ascertain firsthand the status of case backlog according to case category and the case backlog clearance plans.
The DCJ learned that only 23 out of the 86 Small Claims Procedure matters registered at the Mbarara CM Court since January 2020 had been completed the low resolution was attributed to the #Covid-19 pandemic and its attendant problems.
Justice Kavuma Said; “Regarding compliance with delivering pending judgments we have improved, and we can rate ourselves to 80 per cent.” She observed that the Circuit has huge volumes of cases with a limited number of Judicial Officers to handle them.
There are 1,742 backlogged cases both at the High Court and Chief Magistrates Court. Of these, 700 are unallocated cases.
Justice Kavuma said the Court is incapacitated due to the limited session funds as well as lack of personnel such as transcribers to manage the three recording equipment. This, she said, causes a delay in availing records of proceedings.
To minimize on the backlog, the Resident Judge called for weed-out and more Plea Bargaining sessions.
As part of the interventions, she asked for visiting Judges to handle backlogged matters. “There is need to get visiting judges to handle backlog cases in land and civil like we have had three visiting judges who completed criminal sessions and this greatly reduced the backlog,” she said.
She also called for fast-tracking old cases by giving them priority, provision of civil session funds and creation of Ibanda High Court Circuit. Others were stopping registration of Notices of Appeal as appeals and allowances to data entry clerks to clean up CASS and ensure that it is updated with accurate data..
He went on to outline the various case backlog reduction strategies that the Circuit will employ to handle the backlog of 292 cases in all categories. These cases were accumulated between 2012 and 2018. The DCJ will on hold a similar exercise in Masaka on Monday.