Kibuku MP Saleh Kamba has gone to the Constitutional court seeking to salvage his ministerial appointment roundly rejected last year by the parliamentary Appointments committee.
Kamba's case was last week laid before Justices Remmy Kasule, Solomy Balungi Bossa, Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza, Elidad Mwangusya and Opio Aweri. In 2012, the committee, chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, dismissed Kamba's appointment as state minister for Bunyoro Affairs, on grounds that he lacked the academic credentials for such an appointment.
This prompted Kamba to drag the Attorney General to court challenging the constitutionality of the committee's decision. Kamba's lawyers, led by John Mary Mugisha, told court that the Appointments committee flouted the rules of natural justice when it denied Kamba a ministerial position, without a fair hearing.
"The petitioner was not given a chance to adduce evidence relating to his academic qualifications and in absence of an iota of truth, the committee's act was totally arbitrary, capricious and unacceptable," Mugisha said.
Mugisha submitted that the committee also allegedly rejected Kamba's appointment on grounds that he was a Muslim. He claimed that the majority of appointees rejected by the committee were Muslims. Kamba's appointment was turned down along with that of Nasser Ntege Sebaggala, Hajji Muyanja Mbabaali as well Kabula County MP James Kakooza, who is a Christian.
According to Mugisha, the committee's decision usurped High court powers, since the courts had already pronounced themselves on Kamba's academic qualifications. Mugisha further argued that the committee had gone beyond its mandate when it vetted Kamba's appointment instead of just approving him.
Mugisha cited Article 114 of the Constitution, which according to him, doesn't give Parliament powers to veto or reject any ministerial appointment. Mugisha was joined by Severino Twinobusigye who asked court to agree with their submissions.
Twinobusigye reckoned that by rejecting the appointees, the committee infringed on the presidential prerogative which is guaranteed in the Constitution. He added that rejecting Kamba's appointment on grounds of his academic qualification amounted to voting him out of parliament which is in Contravention of the constitution since it's the High court with such jurisdiction.
However, when pinned, Mugisha struggled to explain to Justice Kasule whether just approving ministers without vetting doesn't amount to turning Parliament into a rubber stamp.
In response, State Attorney Richard Adrole asked the justices to dismiss the petition on grounds it presents no remedies against the respondent.
"The petition doesn't spell out exactly what should be done against the respondent [government] in case the petition succeeds," Adrole asserted. He added that Parliament had not violated any constitutional provision when it rejected Kamba's appointment.
He submitted that Kamba had not adduced evidence to prove that his appointment was rejected on the basis of his religious affiliation.
"The committee was composed of 20 members chosen on the basis of proportional party membership and did not act on the basis of religion," Adrole said.
Adrole also asked court to reject Kamba's assertion that he wasn't given a fair hearing, arguing that during the vetting, Kamba was called and asked to present his credentials, which were deemed insufficient by the committee.
He said the petition was misconceived and frivolous, and it raised no issues for constitutional interpretation. Judgment will be delivered on notice.