Judicial officers petition court in bid to push out PS Bigirimana - National | NTV

Judicial officers petition court in bid to push out PS Bigirimana

Wednesday October 23, 2019

 

Judicial officers under their umbrella association of the Uganda Judicial Officers Association (UJOA) have petitioned the High Court in Kampala, seeking its orders to compel its permanent secretary, Mr Pius Bigirimana to vacate his office immediately on account that his office is not known in the Judiciary structure.


UJOA that comprises of all judges, registrars and magistrates from the Supreme Court to the lowest court, contends that the Judiciary is not a ministry or a government department to have a permanent secretary as per section 10 of the Public Service Act and Article 174 of the Constitution since it’s an arm of State.


“A declaration that the appointment and transfer of the respondent’s officer (Mr Bigirimana) as the permanent secretary to the Judiciary by His Excellency the President who is also represented by the respondent, to implement policies of government as illegal, ultra vires and irrational and is jeopardizing the independence of the Judiciary as the Judiciary is neither a department of government nor a ministry,” the judicial officers contend in their law suit filed on Monday.


UJOA further says it is seeking: “An injunction under Section 38 (2) of the Judicature Act that the permanent secretary should vacate immediately as the Judiciary is neither a ministry nor a government department to have a permanent secretary as per Article 174 of the constitution, section 10 of the Public Service Act but should be treated as independent as provided under Article 128 of the constitution.”


In July this year, Mr Bigirimana was transferred from the ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development to the Judiciary to replace Mr Kagole Kivumbi who had been sent on forced leave.


UJOA is an association that brings all judicial officers together with a core mandate of advocating for their welfare.

The judicial offices are also challenging Mr Bigirimana’s move to slash their monthly allowances that was increased based on the recent salary raise, arguing that the same is illegal, improper, irrational and abuse of law.


In new financial year that started in July this year, government increased the salaries of judicial officers by almost 100 percent.

Their monthly allowances were automatically increased to that effect but Mr Bigirimana, wrote an internal memo to the judicial officers, saying the increment in their allowances was done in error before vowing to slash the same to match the figures approved by Cabinet.


“I have noted that there has been an error in the monthly judicial allowance paid to the lower Bench, which has been inconsistent with the figures approved by Cabinet as per Cabinet Extract No. 19. The error was due to the automatic increase of the judicial officers’ allowance on the Integrated Personal and Payroll System by the ministry of public service every time there is salary enhancement for the lower Bench,” Mr Bigirimana wrote to the judicial officers on August 27.

“The purpose of this memo therefore, is to correct the error and clarify that the monthly salary and judicial allowance entitlement are not one and the same. While the salary may increase over time, this allowance is fixed as approved by cabinet,” Mr Bigirimana further wrote.


The judicial officers most especially those on the lower Bench, protested this move to have their increased allowances slashed, a battle that has now ended up in court.


“There is no lawful order or directive of any person that can be issued to alter or vary any allowances or salaries of judicial officers to their disadvantage,” Ms Stella Gloria Atim, the vice president of UJOA stated in her affidavit to support the law suit.


Further, the judicial officers are challenging a number of welfare issues that they want court to address.

They include; deployment of judicial officers to duty stations before they are paid settlement allowances, which they say is arbitrary and against public service standing orders, transfer of judicial officers to new stations without disturbance allowance.

They also want the court to order for revision of the kilometrage allowance of each judicial officer and pay them as per the distance and not a standard figure as it’s the practice.


The Attorney General (AG), the chief government legal adviser, is the respondent in this matter and by press time last evening, he had not yet filed his defense.