The Chief Justice has with immediate effect suspended court hearings and appearances for a period of 42 days as a measure to curb the spread of coronavirus.
In a circular released on Monday afternoon, the Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny Dollo says the move is in line with President Museveni’s directives on prevention and mitigation of the virus.
“I therefore, pursuant to the powers conferred upon the Chief Justice under Article 133 of the Constitution hereby issue these revised guidelines which shall remain in force for 42 days with effect from today, the 7th of June, 2021.All Court hearings and appearances are hereby suspended for the period of 42 days with effect from 7th June 2021,”Dollo said in the circular.
“For cases at the stage of submissions, the respective Courts may advise the counsel/parties to file written submissions through email addresses provided by the Court. All execution proceedings and processes are hereby suspended for the same period of 42 days.”
Scaling down on operations
On Sunday, President Museveni urged companies and organisations to ensure they scale down on their employees who are physically present at their offices to avoid overcrowding but to ensure social distancing.
In the circular released on Monday afternoon, the Chief Justice has directed all courts and departments to immediately scale down operations to 30% physical presence and ensure only critical staff remain to attend to the court and office business on a daily basis.
“The heads of courts and departments should immediately work out a duty rota by which Staff shall work in rotation until further directions are issued. For the courts the duty rota must include a judicial officer and very essential support staff. All Court Registries must remain open to allow filing of cases. Subject to the duty rota, all Judicial and Support Staff shall work from home in their respective jurisdictions and shall be available for duty on call,” he said.
Dollo however noted that only urgent matters will be heard during the 42 days and this should be done in court halls or open spaces at the courts.
“Whenever practicable, virtual hearing of cases should be adhered to, including insisting on written submissions, use of e-mail, on-line delivery of judgments and audio-visual hearings and other modes of contactless communication.”
The Chief Justice has also revealed that the Anti -Corruption Division of the High Court has been closed up to June 18, 2021 and all matter for plea taking at the court will be handled at Buganda Road Court.
Courts were set to hear parliamentary and Local Council election petitions but according to the Chief Justice, this will be done after the elapse of 42 days.
“All staff must strictly observe the Covid-19 Standard operating Procedures as have been issued from time to time by the President of Uganda, the Ministry of Health and the Chief Justice.”