High Court Judge Dr. Andrew Bashaija today ruled that MPs should not scrutinise decisions of court taken in respect of the properties of departed Asians.
To do so, the judge ruled, would mean that Parliament has constituted itself into the appellate body over decisions of courts and usurp such powers not vested in the legislature,” the judge ruled.
The ruling therefore means that Parliament can now not inquire into matters that had already been settled by court.
The court decision followed a case in which three persons, Jamada Baligobye, Augustine Ceaser Luseesa, and John M Nsubuga accused the Chairperson of the PAC of overstepping its mandate when it sought to be availed, for review purposes, details of mandamus orders.
On August 26, 2019, PAC also asked for dates of determination, lawyers involved, presiding judges and amounts involved.
Through their lawyers, the chairperson PAC was jointly sued with the Attorney General, the SG and the Permanent Secretary/ Secretary to the Treasury in the finance ministry.
“A declaration doth issue that the directions, requisitions, orders and or decision by the chairperson of PAC in the proceedings to be availed details of mandamus payments for scrutiny and reviewing including case determination dates, lawyers involved, presiding judges of court awards amounts to interference with execution orders, is contemptuous, illegal, ultra vires, unconstitutional and a direct affront of the doctrine of separation of powers,” Bashaija ruled.
In his legal opinion to Finance PS Keith Muhakanizi on August 15, 2019, the Attorney General William Byaruhanga said properties, whose status has been pronounced by the court cannot be subjected to a further Parliament inquiry.
The Attorney General was responding to a letter by the Departed Asians Properties Custodian Board that is laying claim to Plot 98-104 Nakivubo Road, which belongs to Hajji Abdu Kasai, a businessman.
He explained that the powers of the Departed Asians’ Property Custodian Board are governed by Section 4 of the Assets of Departed Asians Act Cap 83, which stipulates that the Board shall take over and manage all assets transferred to it by virtue of Section 13 of the Assets of Departed Asians Decree, 1973.