TWO crucial judicial principles, independence and accountability, have clashed with each other in a landmark judgment by Uganda’s highest court. Unusually, the case produced seven separate decisions, one a dissenting judgment – and it has also sparked strong criticism from outside the court. The case concerned the right of the judicial disciplinary body to charge a registrar, someone who exercises judicial powers in Uganda, with misconduct in relation to an action she took in the course of her judicial duties.
The case begins in 2009 when deputy registrar Dr Gladys Kisekka issued a warrant for the attachment of certain property following a default judgment. A few months later she received a letter from a law firm, protesting that some of the land scheduled for attachment belonged to their client, and not to the judgment debtor in the case.
Kisekka immediately recalled the warrant in respect of the disputed property and copied her letter recalling the warrant to all the parties.