The High Court Civil Division judge, Esta Nambayo has directed controversial city businessman Mukesh Shukla Shumuk to pay all costs and damages to Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka after dismissing his Shs50bn case resulting from his business rivalry with late Bonny Mwebesa Katatumba.
Shumuk through his lawyers led the Court to order President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s government through the Attorney General to compensate him Shs50bn for malicious prosecution.
Shumuk told Court that in early 2013, Katatumba made a complaint to the police stating that he had conspired with one Hassan G.M Wandera to murder him.
He added that the allegation against him was therefore conspiracy to commit murder and police upon investigations of the matter, made a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who sanctioned the charges.
He stated that on the 8th January, 2013, through his lawyer Augustine Kibuka Musoke, he was summoned to police at Kampala Metropolitan Police Headquarters in connection to the charges of conspiracy to commit a felony.
He said that the following day, on 9th January, 2013 when he reported to the police pursuant to the summons, he was promptly arrested and detained at Central Police Station Kampala for the entire day until he was driven to Makindye Chief Magistrate’s Court where is was arraigned and charged on the count of Conspiracy to murder Katatumba.
He added that he denied the charges and State produced a number of witnesses to pin him.
However, before the conclusion of the case, the DPP withdrew the criminal charges against him without giving reasons why he did so and he based on that ground to insist that he was maliciously prosecuted.
In his defense, the Attorney General through Clare Atukunda stated that Police is mandated under Article 212 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda Sections 4 (1) & 23 of the Police Act, Cap 303 to preserve law and order and to enforce the laws of Uganda.
She noted that in enforcing these laws, Police officers have the power to arrest any person even without a warrant or order of Court if there is a reasonable cause to suspect that the person has committed or is about to commit a cognisable offence as provided under S. 10 of the Criminal Procedure Code Act, Cap 116.
The DPP later based on Shumuk’s submissions during cross-examination where he admitted that Police did not act on its own accord to arrest him but was moved to do so after they received a complaint from the late Katatumba and as such, there was sufficient reason to cause suspicion that the he could have committed a cognisable/chargeable offence.
She added that the implication of Shumuk’s evidence is that his arrest was lawful and asked the Court to dismiss his case.
She boasted that there were no essential ingredients to prove malicious prosecution and submitted that the prosecution of the plaintiff was based on reasonable grounds that the prosecutors would secure a conviction based on the evidence gathered from the witnesses by the investigating police officers.
She explained that Katatumba, the complainant, lost interest in the case and requested the DPP to withdraw the charges against the Plaintiff resulting in discontinuation of proceedings against the plaintiff and his co-accused and was exercising her powers within the law.
She explained that Katatumba wrote to DPP requesting her to withdraw the charges from Shumuk explaining that they were trying to settle those cases out of court and that Shumk had requested that Katatumba first drop the criminal charges against him before any negotiations could go on.
In that letter, Katatumba said that it is in that spirit that he decided to drop the charges against the accused persons and requested the DPP to discontinue the charges against Shumuk.
In her ruling, judge Nambayo explained that, “I have already established that there was reasonable cause for the Police and the DPP to arrest and charge the Plaintiff in court. I find that the Plaintiff has not demonstrated that there was malice by the officers of the Defendant in the process of his arrest and arraignment before court. This ground therefore also fails,” she noted.
She added that, “In the whole therefore, I find that the Plaintiff has failed to prove a case of malicious prosecution against him by the officers of the Defendant. I would find no merit in this case which I do hereby dismiss from court and order that the Plaintiff pays costs to the Defendant.”
The Administrators of the estate of the late Katatumba led by Angella Katatumba are still fighting for a multibillion property which Shumuk claims to have bought.
Shumuk also claims to have entered into an agreement to sell land, Blacklines House in Kampala and Hotel Diplomat in Muyenga, a claim that the Katatumbas protest.
They insist that Shumuk forged their father’s signature which he used to try to grab their father’s estate.