By Ismail Ssembatya
The Deputy Chief Justice of Uganda, Richard Buteera, has on Wednesday 30, 2020, held his maiden meeting with Justices of the Court of Appeal/ Constitutional Court where they discussed the workload of the court and the strategies on how to best manage and win as a team.
Justice Buteera commended the Justices for having completed 840 cases (as at September 28) in the last nine months.
He asked all to work together as as they improve the image of judicially in the public domain and exercise independence when making crucial decisions which we are all bound to respect.
The Justices discussed the report and explored strategies on how to deliver justice quicker and equitably.
It was noted that there was a heavy workload of 7,533 matters. Of these, 5,243 are classified as backlog. This is against a small manpower of 13 Justices. Last Financial Year, the Court completed 1,099 matters.
Buteera also called for strategies to fight backlog including interventions such as using Zoom to deliver justice.
Deputy Chief Justice Buteera also shared his plan for the court based on the following;
1. Prioritization of the expeditious disposal of the pending 266 Constitutional Petitions and 231 Constitutional applications.. “We need to prioritize Constitutional matters over the other cases and give them expeditious disposal. These take precedence over other matters.”
2. Planning for Election Petitions that will arise from next year’s general elections. “We need to clear all Election Petitions that arose during last elections before new ones are fixed for hearing.” He also called for the training of the Justices and Registrars ahead of the handling of the Election Petitions.
3. The meeting approved the need to review Court of Appeal Rules.
4. Adhere to COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures while dispensing Justice. It was agreed to use Zoom, online filing of submissions among other measures.
5. How to support administrative staff during this period where transport costs have increased.
6. Follow up with the Judiciary administration on the funding of the court following recent budget reductions.
It was agreed that the meeting would become a weekly activity if the Court with Justices who are not physically available joining using Zoom.
It was agreed that by the end of this month, the Court would have concluded the development of its calendar for next year.
It was agreed to address the issue of Appeals whose Judgments have been pending in the Court for long periods.
The meeting agreed that the DCJ agreed to take active part in the October-November sessions in a bid to expedite Justice
In the same meeting the Court’s Deputy Registrar, Ayebare Tumwebaze presented a comprehensive report detailing how the cases were being handled at the Court; backlog status, cases pending and the innovations in place.