The Chief Justice, Benjamin Odoki, has ordered quick delivery of judgment in the election appeal by NRM's Muyanja Mbabaali against DP's secretary general, Mathias Nsubuga.
Odoki's directive comes three weeks after his deputy, Justice Alice Mpagi-Bahigeine, ordered a retrial of the appeal on grounds that the long-awaited judgment had been leaked to the public before its official delivery. Nsubuga lost to Mbabaali in last year's elections for the Bukoto South parliamentary seat.
He petitioned the High Court in Masaka, claiming that the victor did not have the requisite academic qualifications for a Member of Parliament. Justice Owiny-Dollo, on September 2, 2011, ruled in Nsubuga's favour and nullified Mbabaali's election, but the latter, whose ministerial nomination Parliament's appointments committee had rejected on grounds of inadequate education qualifications, petitioned the Court of Appeal, seeking a second opinion.
Before the appellant court's verdict could be delivered, Mbabaali petitioned the Chief Justice on March 30, 2012, complaining that the judgment had leaked and was circulating in his constituency. The judiciary first denied leakage of the judgment, but the deputy Chief Justice later ordered a retrial before a new panel of judges. The original coram had justices Constance Byamugisha, Augustine Nshimye and Stella Amako Arach.
However, Nsubuga's lawyers, Alaka & Company Advocates, wrote to the Chief Justice on May 9, 2012, demanding speedy release of the judgment. They argued that there was no legal basis meriting a rehearing.
"To rehear this matter would not only set a bad precedent [that] will be used by unscrupulous litigants and lawyers to derail the course of justice and blackmail courts, but shall also tantamount a vote of no confident in the whole of the Court of Appeal and the judiciary at large," reads the five-page letter copied to the deputy Chief Justice.
Caleb Alaka contends in the letter that it was imperative to establish where Mbabaali obtained the alleged judgment, and whether it was indeed the true judgment.
"This was crucial and vital, taking into consideration the complainant's antecedents of having forged academic documents for purposes of securing admission to a university and his rather questionable and dubious character as reflected in the proceedings and the judgment of the High Court in Masaka," the letter states.
A source told The Observer on Wednesday that shortly after receiving Alaka's letter, Chief Justice Odoki communicated to his deputy, directing her to deliver the judgment as soon as possible.
"I agree with the respondent's [Nsubuga's] lawyers that there is no basis for rehearing the appeal. I would, therefore, advise you to order for the delivery of the judgment without any further delay," Odoki reportedly told justice Mpagi-Bahigeine.
According to the appellant court file, the alleged leaked judgment, which was in Nsubuga's favour, bears no date or court seal, has only pages 59 to 61 and appears to have been written by one judge.
It says besides the disputed Nkumba University degree certificate that Mbabaali presented during his nomination, even his certificates for the lower education levels were forged.
"In view of my findings above, the grounds of appeal would also fail. In the result, I would dismiss the appeal with costs to the respondent [Nsubuga] in this court and the court below. I uphold the decision of the High Court," the leaked verdict states.
In another development, The Observer learnt that Mbabaali had hired new lawyers from Kintu & Company Advocates for the retrial.