The constitutional petition challenging the re-appointment of retired Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki for a two-year contract, comes up for its first reading in court today.
The high profile case is coming up for pre-trial or conferencing before a single judge of the Constitutional Court, Geoffrey Kiryabwire, who will then forward it to a full panel of five justices. What happens in the pre-trial is both parties try to narrow down the issues in the case that will be argued upon during the full hearing.
Justice Odoki’s controversial re-appointment as Chief Justice is being challenged by Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga. The legislator is being represented by lawyers from Kanyeihamba and Co Advocates.
MP Karuhanga is challenging the action of President Museveni in re-appointing Mr Odoki as Chief Justice saying it contravenes Articles 130, 133, 142 (1) (2) (3), 143 (1), and 144 (1) (a) (2) of the constitution. He further accuses the President of not following the recommendations of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) that forwarded the name of Supreme Court Justice Bart Katureebe as the suitable candidate to replace Justice Odoki, who retired in June this year after 12 years as chief judge. But the President instead re-appointed Odoki, a move Karuhanga says is unconstitutional.
The law maker also contends that the constitution does not provide for the re-appointment of a retired Chief Justice to the post of a substantive Chief Justice of Uganda.
Justice Odoki’s name is now before Parliament awaiting approval since it’s a constitutional requirement. He is currently on the Bench working as one of the Acting Supreme Court justices. Recently, Parliament reluctantly declined to approve him on grounds that there is a court case challenging the same.
Odoki clocked the retirement age of 70 on March 23 this year before serving out the three months extension that ended on June 23. He had served in the judiciary for 35 years with the last 12 as Chief Justice.
President Museveni in a July 9 letter addressed to the chairman of the Judicial Service Commission James Ogoola, directed that Odoki be given a two year contract in order to maximise the services of our human resource.