Minister Mao advocates for Judicature Amendment Bill to tackle backlog

Minister Mao advocates for Judicature Amendment Bill to tackle backlog
Minister Norbert Mao .

In a session before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Nobert Mao passionately presented the Judicature Amendment Bill 2023, emphasizing that its passage would contribute to promoting the right to a fair trial in Uganda.

Minister Mao highlighted the surge in population, crime rates, and increased public awareness of legal rights as factors leading to a substantial demand for judicial services and court usage.

Mao's appearance on Monday aimed to garner support for the bill, which proposes a significant increase in the number of judges at both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.

Currently, the Supreme Court grapples with a backlog of 45.38%, while the Court of Appeal faces pending cases at 59.66%.

The minister asserted that augmenting the number of justices in these courts would ensure the timely delivery of justice for all.

"The Judicature Bill 2023 seeks to increase the number of justices of the Supreme Court to 21, including the Chief Justice, and the Court of Appeal to 56, including the Deputy Chief Justice," Mao explained.

He linked this expansion to the growing population, heightened crime rates, and the subsequent surge in demand for judicial services.

One notable feature of the proposed bill is the establishment of courts of appeal in all regions, each entrusted with the final jurisdiction to handle election petitions.

Minister Mao sees this as a pivotal step in addressing the evolving needs of the justice system.

However, members of the Committee, led by MP Abdu Katuntu, expressed concerns about the Minister's submission.

They contended that Mao overlooked the findings of a Judiciary study on the causes of case backlog in Ugandan courts.

The MPs acknowledged the importance of discussing an increase in the number of justices at the Court of Appeal but staunchly opposed the idea of a bloated Supreme Court.

In response to these concerns, the Committee entered into a closed meeting, acceding to the Minister's request to address some of the issues privately.

The deliberations within the closed session will likely shed light on the nuances of the proposed amendments and the Committee's stance on the bill.

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