|Case Number||APPEAL NO. 7 OF 2015|
In 2015, the Respondent (the then Applicant) filed a Reference complaining about actions and decisions of East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and its Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges which had led investigations resulting in her impeachment as the Speaker of EALA. Prior to the hearing, the Appellant raised a Preliminary Objection claiming that the Respondent’s witnesses, members of EALA, could not testify on her behalf without the special approval of the Assembly pursuant to Section 20 of EALA’s Powers and Privileges Act, 2003. The Respondent averred that the purported preliminary objection could not dispose of the case since no evidence had yet been adduced at the trial. In the ruling, the Trial Court found that it would be premature to forestall the Respondent’s evidence on the ground that it did not comply with Section 20 without first hearing that evidence so the objection was overruled.
In its appeal, the Appellant alleged inter alia that: the Trial Court erred by overruling the preliminary objection; that the Statement of Reference, disclosed the nature of the evidence to be adduced and this evidence ran afoul of Section 20; the Trial Court committed a procedural irregularity by ignoring the Parties’ Pleadings, Affidavit in support of the Reference and the documents supplied by the Clerk of EALA and finding that there was no evidence to enable it to determine whether the Respondent’s evidence fell within the ambit of Section 20; that the Trial Court misinterpreted the law on admission of evidence relating to Parliamentary Proceedings by holding that the Respondent could use the proceedings as evidence as long as she did not rely on the contents thereof; and in awarding costs to the Respondent.
In reply, the Respondent argued that: there was a purported preliminary objection before the Trial Court which could not dispose of the case since no evidence had been adduced at the trial; the objection was premature; furthermore, no procedural irregularities had occurred as the Respondent had opted to give oral evidence and the Trial Court was yet heard to hear the evidence and that of the witnesses.
|Respondent||Rt. Hon. Margaret Zziwa|
|Complainant||The Secretary General of the East African Community|
|Date filed||November 6, 2015|
|Countries||East African Community|
|Keyword||Decree , EALA , Interactory decision , Order , Pleadings , Preliminary Points of law , Procedural irregularities , Record of Appeal|
|Treaty Article||Article 35 A , EALA (Powers and Privileges) Act 2003 , Rule 1 , Rule 111 , Rule 114 , Rule 41 , Rule 69 , Rule 88 , Rules of Procedure 2013 , Section 20|
First Instance Judgment
|Verdict||As we take leave of this Amended Reference, we are constrained to observe that it did illuminate the vitality of respect for and submission to the rule of law in the conduct of public affairs. To that end, we deem it our duty to and do hereby propose that it is a basic expectation that all holders of public office would discharge their duties with respectful regard for designated processes; demonstrable deference to legal propriety and due diligence, and a reasonable disdain for impunity, partiality and bad faith. The trampling roughshod over designated legal processes and basic principles of natural justice would certainly not, in our most considered view, engender an environment conducive to harmonized regional integration in the EAC. The Reference has also brought to the fore the need for EALA to relook at its House and Committee procedural rules, and address lacunas that could cause confusion in its legislative function. In the final result, we do allow the Amended Reference in part with the following Orders: a. A declaration doth issue that the purported sitting of the Assembly on 26th November 2014 without the elected Speaker of the Assembly violated Article 56 of the Treaty; was unlawful, procedurally wrong and of no legal consequence. b. A declaration doth issue that the Committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges was improperly constituted for purposes of the Speaker's removal and constituted a breach of the Rules of natural justice owing to demonstrable bias, and accordingly the report arising therefrom is null and void. c. A declaration doth issue that grounds 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.5, 3.4 and 3.5 do correspond to grounds of misconduct under Article 53(3) of the Treaty. d. Each Party shall bear its own costs. It is so ordered.|
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|Date delivered||February 3, 2017|
not a true preliminary objection because it was not founded on a pure point of law which, if upheld, would have summarily disposed of the Reference before the Court. Additionally, the Clerk of EALA had already produced certain documents in compliance with the witness summons, which would have had to considered during hearing on the merits of the case even if the Respondent’s witnesses had been debarred on the basis of the Appellant’s objection.
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|Date delivered||May 27, 2016|