The seven member panel of Supreme court judges has quashed the consolidated presidential age limit appeal in a 4-3 verdict.
Four judges including the chief justice, Bart Katureebe, Jotham Tumwesigye, Rubby Opio Aweri and Stella Arach Amoko quashed the appeal in their judgments delivered separately.
Those who allowed the appeal are justices Paul Mugamba, Eldad Mwangusya and Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza.
The consolidated appeal stemmed from applications by city lawyer, Male Mabirizi, six opposition members of parliament and Uganda Law Society challenging the decision of the Constitutional court to uphold the approval of the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2017, which paved way for scrapping of the presidential age limit.
The petitioners ran to the Constitutional court citing various flaws in the approval of the bill that scrapped the presidential age limit to allow President Yoweri Museveni who will have clocked 75-years of age to seek re-election in the 2021 polls. The Constitutional court upheld the amendment, forcing the the petitioners to seek redress in the Supreme court.
The four judges who upheld the amendment maintained that the lower court didn't err in law and facts when it upheld that the removal of presidential age limits was done in conformity with the law. Justice Tumwesigye noted that the certificate of compliance which was attached to Bill had format but lacked content and this could not mean that the entire Bill was enacted unlawfully.
He explained that the laws that had earlier been passed illegally including the extension of the MPs term of office to seven years was scrapped off by the lower court and this couldn’t render the whole process unlawful.
He argued that he had looked at the evidence from the parliament hansard showing that the MPs were given Shs 29 million for consultation and the feedback on the floor of parliament was that they indeed did the consultations.
Quoting the Lira district Woman MP, justice Tumwesigye said that the evidence showed that she was given money to do consultations in her district and about 6,000 voters turned up. However, police reportedly disrupted them with teargas. In his view; Tumwesigye stated that consultations were done.
Unanimously, the four justices said that the Shs 29 million was not withdrawn from the consolidated fund as raised by the petitioners. They state that the money was reportedly got from the Parliamentary budget.
The justices also found out that although the raid by the army and assault on the legislators was uncalled for, the legislators who had been allegedly assaulted were supported to seek compensation and file complaints against their attackers in the courts of law.
The justices thus dismissed the application with orders that each party bears its own costs in since this was a public interest issue. Justice Katureebe who led the justices also dismissed the application without giving reasons since he was reportedly unwell to read the entire judgment.
Justice Katureebe delegated justice Mwangusya to read the summary on his behalf.
Three justices; Mugamba, Mwangusya and Tibatemwa differed from their colleagues. They argued that the citizens were never consulted adding that the evidence from parliament indicated that most of the MPs were never given ample time to debate the matter.
They explained that out of the 462 MPs, less than 200 consulted their electorate, which implies that the entire process was rushed by parliament.
The Justices also noted that it was illegal for the speaker of parliament to include the Bill on the order paper yet the day it was tabled, it was not part of what was earlier been for discussion by parliament.
The three justices also unanimously ruled that they could not maintain an illegality since they understand clearly that the decision taken by parliament was taking them back to the sad history of Uganda.