Chief Justices and their Deputies are set to retain their monthly salaries in retirement if President Museveni assents to the Administration of Judiciary Bill approved by Parliament on Tuesday, June 2.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ephraim Kamuntu, while making case for the passing of the Bill, said that the payments to judicial officers during retirement are to ensure that the active officers serve with diligence and confidence not to be compromised.
Attorney General William Byaruhanga also argued that the senior judicial officers need to be supported to enjoy their retirement because many of them are too old to pursue any other form of employment by the time they leave the bench.
Opposition Chief Whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda equally supported Byaruhanga’s proposal saying that these are senior judicial officers who dedicate most of their time to the country. Ssemujju’s submission was contrary to a section of other legislators who were proposing 80 percent salary during retirement.
Jacob Oboth, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee chairperson said that the approval of the Administration of Judiciary Bill was long overdue since it is meant to give effect to the separation of powers between the three arms of government.
The monthly salary payment will be equivalent to that of a sitting Chief Justice and his/her Deputy on top of a one-off lump-sum retirement benefit equivalent to 2.4 percent of the annual salary multiplied by five years of service.
Currently, the Chief Justice earns a monthly salary of 20.6 million Shillings while the Deputy Chief Justice earns 19.5 million Shillings.
Also the new law will see the creation of a Judiciary Council which shall be charged with the functions of advising the Chief Justice on; the policies for planning and development of the Judiciary; ethics and integrity within the Judiciary; ways and means of securing adequate financing for the Judiciary; matters relating to personnel or staff development and welfare; improvement of the administration of justice; and, policies for continuous monitoring and evaluation of the Judiciary.
The Judiciary council shall comprise of; Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice, Principal Judge, one Justice representing the superior courts; one judicial officer representing the lower bench, the Solicitor General, the Chief Registrar, the Secretary to the Judiciary.
Other members of the council are; the Secretary to the Treasury, a representative of the Justice Law and Order Sector institutions, the President of the Uganda Law Society, the Chairperson of the Law Council, and, two members of the public; male and female, of high moral character, proven integrity and competence nominated by the Chief Justice.
Meanwhile, retired Justices of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Retired Principal Judge, Judges of the High Court, the Chief Registrar, Registrars, Deputy registrars and all Magistrates will be paid 80 percent of their salaries in retirement. Currently, the Justices of the Supreme Court earn 18.3 million Shillings monthly while those of the Court of Appeal receive 17.9 million Shillings.
On top of the payments, the judges will receive security provided by the government, a one-off lump sum retirement benefit equivalent to 2.4 percent of the annual salary multiplied by five years of service.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga blamed the delayed approval on the Bill to lack of commitment from the previous Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
On more than three occasions, Parliament last year failed to consider the Bill after government disagreed with the committee report in regard to retirement benefits of judicial officers. The government then sought more time to harmonize with legislators outside the floor of parliament. Government had proposed that retiring judicial officers leave with their full benefits in addition to wages given to their spouses and children something that was strongly opposed by legislators.