The judges rulings in summary
1. The lifting of the presidential age limit was constitutional (4 judges agreed, 1 didn’t)
2. Extending MPs’ terms from 5 to 7 yrs was unconstitutional -thus is null & void (all judges in agreement)
3. Speaker Kadaga suspended MPs legally.
4. The Misconduct of MPs warranted the extraordinary measures used to evict them.
5.Reinstatement of Term Limits Unconstitutional.
6, Court awarded Professional fees of Shs 20m for each partitioner.
Judges of the Constitutional court have upheld the presidential age limit amendment.
Four of the five judges ruled that the presidential age limit amendment was legal and constitutional.
Judges of the Constitutional court sitting in Mbale
Justices Remmy Kasule, Cheborion Barishaki, Elizabeth Musoke and Deputy Chief Justice Alphonse Chigamoy Owiny-Dollo all ruled that the amendment for presidential age limit was constitutional. Only Justice Kenneth Kakuru declared the entire act null and void.
The judges unanimously agreed that extension of the MPs’ tenure is a breach of a social contract signed between the MPs and the electorate who went to polls knowing that they were voting in MPs for only 5 years.
The judges also unanimously agreed that speaker Rebecca Kadaga acted within her powers when she suspended six members of parliament who were disrupting parliamentary business during debate of the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017.
The judges also faulted the MPs for the chaos and violence that erupted on September 26, 2017 when some legislators were forcefully evicted from the House and some detained.
They argued that failure to heed to the speaker’s call for uninterrupted debate or to leave the chambers for those suspended led to the violence.
JUSTICE BARISHAKI RULING ON PRESIDENTIAL AGE LIMIT,
The judge noted that MPs were granted time and went out to held consultations with their constituents, and many of them including those in the opposition confirmed that they indeed met with their people and got their views.
The bill, he noted, was duly, debated and passed by the house, a certificate of financial implication was issued by the Finance Ministry and the President assented to it.
In his ruling, the judge said he failed to find any evidence or law provision, which proved that by removing the Presidential Age Limit, Parliament in effected subverted the powers of the people, granted to them under Article 1 of the constitution.
“I am unable to agree with the petitioners’ proposition. If their argument was to hold, it would mean that Parliament has absolutely no powers to amend any provision of the constitution, since the entire constitution was passed by the people’s representatives in the constituent assembly,” he said.
Justice Barishaki however, nullified among others, the constitutional amendment which extended the terms of MPs and local government leaders, from 5 to 7 years, stating that this was illegally smuggled into the bill and passed without consultations with the members of the public.
In total, Justice Cheborion Barishaki expunged, Sections 2, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 of the constitutional amendment terming them as unconstitutional and inconsistent with various provisions of the constitution. He however, upheld sections 1, 3, 4 and 7 of the same amendment.
Justice Kenneth Kakuru Judgment : Age Limit Removal Unconstitutional
Parliament has no powers to amend the constitution at leisure, justice Kakuru ruled as the constitutional court delivered the much anticipated ruling on age limit removal.
Kakuru started off by arguing that age limit deletion was meant to help President Yoweri Museveni extend his three-decade rule.
He then took a swipe at MPs whom he said had misunderstood their powers to make amendments.
“MPs on their own have no power to legislate. The power to legislate belongs to Ugandans. The power they have is delegated by the people,” said Kakuru.
“Clearly, the argument that Parliament has power to amend the Constitution at will is rejected.”
The judge further described “the notion that parliament has power to amend any article as argued by the deputy attorney general” as “a fiction based on a legal misconception”.
Kakuru, also ruled against the MPs’ action of extending their term of office from five to seven years.
“In my humble view therefore, the principle of fair and free elections regularly held every five years forms the basic structure of the constitution and is beyond the power of Parliament to amend,” he said.
The 60-year old judge also warned of the dangers of a parliament which thought it had powers to amend the constitution at will.
“If that is so, parliament can amend the Constitution to remove the Judiciary,” he said.
“This notion would mean parliament can decide to amend to rule for life and upon death their sits be inherited by their children. We can’t sit and watch this happen.”
Kakuru was worried that a parliament whose powers remained unchecked could make Uganda a monarchy.
If Parliament is allowed to do whatever they want so long as they have the majority, could see them assuming the right of entitlement,” warned Kakuru.
“They can abolish the Republic of Uganda or make themselves MPs for life. Parliament can abolish the Republic of Uganda and introduce a monarchy” .
The judge further warned that “the argument that you can vote to amend any article of the Constitution by simple majority is misguided” and “this will not happen on our watch”.
I declare that the entire constitutional amendment Act 1 of 2018 is unconstitutional and therefore null and void. All its provisions ought to be expunged from the Constitution of Uganda.