The High Court in Kampala has issued a temporary injunction halting the termination of Charles Musekuura from his service as the Chairperson of the National Standards Council.
The Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana on Friday issued the injunction following a successful application by Musekuura against the Attorney General.
Musekuura petitioned the Court seeking to quash the October 11th, 2023 decision by Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Francis Mwebesa, terminating his service as Chairperson, of the National Standards Council and also prohibiting him from getting a new chairperson.
He told the Court that he was duly appointed as the Chairperson to the National Standards Council on August 4th, 2022, and his tenure of service was to run for 3 years, which appointment he duly accepted.
Musekuura said that since he was appointed the Board Chairperson, he has been diligently and professionally executing his duties as mandated at all times however, he was terminated without any reason, and with clear disregard for the rules of natural justice.
He added that on the same day pursuant to section 5(1) of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards Act, the Minister also wrote to the Acting Executive Director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards informing him that Musekuura was being replaced with James Kabali Kalibbala. He noted that the said law has since been repealed.
According to Musekuura, the said termination of the Minister is ultra vires as it is not founded on any law and it is a clear violation of the principles of Natural Justice particularly those of; a right to an adequate notice containing the reasons for the termination, and a right to a fair hearing.
The Attorney General opposed the application for a temporary injunction relying on an affidavit of Alfred Oyo Andima –the Under Secretary in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives saying that Mwebesa made the said contentious decisions within the powers given to him.
He added that the status quo has been irrevocably changed as the applicant was duly removed from the National Standards Council and his replacement has assumed his duties.
He said Musekuura’s application is misconceived and an abuse of the court process since he has not shown that failure to grant an interim injunction will cause him to suffer irreparable loss where damages will not be an adequate remedy.
In his ruling, Justice Ssekaana indicated that the court under the doctrine of separation of powers is enjoined to ensure that the system of checks and balances is not casually defeated by not allowing aggrieved parties like Musekuura to question decisions made by public officeholders like the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.
He said any misuse or abuse of power should never be a ground to deem an action overtaken by events otherwise illegalities would be perpetuated by ensuring that the status quo is changed hurriedly without any justification or basis.
“This court has wide discretion at this stage to consider any factor which would have a bearing on the issue of whether the injunction ought to be granted. It is for the court to determine the weight to be accorded to a particular factor weighed in balance and where they appear to be balanced the court ought to consider and strive to preserve the status quo “, said Ssekaana.
He allowed the application saying the court in the exercise of its discretion ought to avoid any absurdity in the application of the law since the damage Musekuura will suffer if the court rules in his favor will be greater and irreparable.
Musekuura and the Executive Director of UNBS Livingstone Ebiru were recently in the news for a 100 million shillings bribe that the former allegedly received from the latter to retain his job. However, Ebiru has since been set free by the court after the charges that were levied against him were withdrawn by the IGG.