The head of High Court Civil Division Justice Musa Ssekaana has warned Kampala City Lawyer Male Mabirizi against filing similar cases and withdrawing them after rejecting the Judge they have been allocated to.
In his letter dated June 10 2021, Ssekaana notes that Mabirizi filed a case against the Attorney General and the same was brought to his attention by the Deputy Registrar of the court out of concern that it was the third similar matter filed by him in a space of two weeks.
The case Ssekaana is referring to Mabirizi was seeking an interim injunction to block the recruitment process of judicial officers by the Judicial Service Commission on grounds that the process being taken was not transparent and was allegedly characterized by corruption and favouritism.
The case was first filed on May 17th 2021 and it was allocated to Ssekaana. But it was withdrawn a day later on May 18th 2021 after the Deputy Registrar had reportedly failed to have the matter transferred or re-allocated to another Judge.
But according to Ssekaana’s letter, Mabirizi filed another matter of the same facts, orders and the same was allocated to Justice Emmanuel Baguma but later withdrew it.
“The Court fixed the said applications for hearing on June 4th 2021. The Presiding Judge noticed that this application was indeed similar to the earlier one filed and not formally withdrawn before Justice Ssekaana Musa on May 18th 2021. The trial judge found that they are similar and to avoid duplicity the same applications be placed before the same Judge (Ssekaana Musa)”, reads the letter in part.
According to Ssekaana, Mabirizi immediately filed before court a notice of withdrawing when Baguma ordered the file to be placed to him (Ssekaana) and as a result, on June 7th 2021, he filed another application the same as the two previous ones that he had withdrawn.
“I find your action of filing 3 similar applications in the same court on the same subject matter to be an abuse of court process. This division will not allow you to abuse the court register by filing and withdrawing cases at leisure and refilling later to be allocated to another Judge”, writes Ssekaana.
Adding that “Your actions and practices amount to forum shopping which is strictly abhorred by this court. You have no basis of rejecting a Judicial Officer allocated a file/matter”.
“The games you are playing in filing the same matter several times to get a favourable judge will not be entertained. I have directed the court registry to return your application filed or left in court and the same shall not be received or entered in the register of the court”, writes Ssekaana.
In his two paged letter copied to all top management of the Judiciary and the Attorney General, Ssekaana says he has also directed the registry not to entertain any similar applications that may be filed by Mabirizi or his agents premised on similar facts to preserve the sanctity of the court register.
However, in response, Mabirizi has also written a formal letter responding that Ssekaana has not cited any law and nothing can stop him from filing cases in court which he has paid for.
“You also purported to direct registry staff not to register my cases! Reading your letter proved your misconduct, misbehaviour and incompetence, as I complained against you early last year with Judicial Service Commission, with investigations on-going” says Mabirizi.
Mabirizi adds that the withdrawal of cases filed is regulated under order 25 of civil procedure rules which he has been complying with and therefore Ssekaana cannot become the law on withdrawal.
“Why are you interested in looking into my withdrawn files if you are not driven by a baseless personal vendetta against me? Did I not pay filing fees? For your information, I can even make 100 withdrawals and re-filings and I need not give the reason for doing so”, writes Mabirizi.
According to Mabirizi, Justice Ssekaana doesn’t own the Civil Division although he played games and resisted his transfer to the Mbarara High Court circuit sometime back.
“Since I dragged you to Judicial Service Commission, I don’t recognize you and accordingly you won’t force me to appear before you when I want you removed from office”, reads Mabirizi’s letter in part.
He adds that the last time he appeared before Ssekaana was in 2019 challenging the Chairperson of Electoral Commission Justice Simon Byabakama’s failure to relinquish his powers as a Court of Appeal Judge where; Ssekaana reportedly told Mabirizi that he was submitting rubbish and threatened to send him to Luzira.
Mabirizi now in his one-paged response wonders whether the Judge is dying to send him to prison.
“Since you are not immune to court proceedings in your capacity, do not be surprised if you are arraigned before a criminal court over your conduct in that office, either soon or in future”, adds the letter by Mabirizi.
Mabirizi says that all he wants are his applications received, given numbers and allocated.