KAMPALA: City Lawyer Steven Kalali has petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging some provisions in the newly enacted Administration of Judiciary Act, saying they are discriminatory towards some judicial officers as well as the rest of the public servants.
The Judiciary Administration Act came into force on June 19th, 2020 after the president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, assented to it. The act is meant to strengthen the judiciary as an independent arm of the government. The act provides for the continued payment of the monthly salary to a retired Chief Justice and his deputy on top of receiving a lump sum package equivalent to 2.4 percent of his or her annual salary multiplied by five and the total number of years spent in service.
According to the same law, retired Justices of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Principal Judge, and Judges of the High Court will continue to receive 80 percent of their salaries after reaching their mandatory retirement ages.In addition, they will receive a lump-sum retirement benefit equal to 2.4 percent of their annual salary multiplied by five and their years of service.
They will also be entitled to state security, chauffeur-driven cars, and annual medical and housing allowances. The act excludes Registrars and Magistrates from the provision of security, cars, medical and housing allowances despite the fact that they will continue earning their monthly salary for life.
In his petition submitted before the constitutional court on Monday, Kalali argues that some of the provisions in the Judiciary Act are discriminatory against public servants in different government entities who are not entitled to the same emoluments upon retirement. This, Kalali says, is unconstitutional.
He also notes that the act is also discriminatory in nature since it only favors judicial officers on the higher bench, leaving out junior officers when it comes to things like funeral expenses and other entitlements.
Kalali’s affidavit supporting the petition states: “That the Act providing retirement benefits with huge packages or more packages to members of the high bench to the exclusion of those from the lower bench is discriminatory and connotes selfishness which this court should not be seen to operationalize the same.”
He argues that unless the contested provisions of the Act are nullified, they are likely to cause or promote disrespect among public servants, including police officers and health workers, because of the discriminatory privileges.
The constitutional court has already summoned the Attorney General, who is listed as the only respondent to the petition, to file his defense within 15 days before the matter can be allocated to a panel of five justices for hearing