Acting Chief Justice Steven Kavuma has cautioned judicial officers to desist from abuse of money suspects pay for bail.
“Bail money sometimes gives the Judiciary a bad image. Some of our courts are criticised for fixing very high bail money sums. The public sometimes views this as a deliberate attempt by some judicial officers to grant bail to applicants with one hand and take it away with the other,” Justice Kavuma said.
He was speaking during a regional planning workshop for judges, registrars, chief magistrates and magistrates in Mbale last week. The workshop was for judicial officers working in eastern region in the High Court area covering Mbale, Jinja and Soroti.
They discussed the need for judicial officers to be involved in the national budgeting process.
Justice Kavuma said the management of funds at various courts has raised accountability queries which have undermined the integrity of the Judiciary.
“Funds collected through fines and compensations are also, at times, a source of concern as some judicial officers fidget around by attempting to misapply them to the disaantage of the unsuspecting litigants. These public funds you manage are not personal resources,” Justice Kavuma warned.
He, however, cautioned judicial officers against asking for huge sums of money from suspects to grant them bail.
“Suspects are being denied justice if they are asked to pay exorbitantly for bail,” said Justice Kavuma.
He noted the Judiciary is often under sharp criticism, especially on land cases. Delayed justice in land case is often blamed as the cause of serious criminal behaviour by some people who resort to taking the law into their hands, and at times, committing serious crimes, including murder.
“I want to task all judicial officers to do all that they can to treat land justice as a matter of great priority and urgency. Delayed land justice only adds misery to this unfortunate situation in the area. This could only be achieved by use of appropriate alternative dispute resolution mechanism like mediation,” he said.
Justice Kavuma said he was greatly troubled by corruption in the Judiciary and emphasised proper accountability of funds collected from the public.
He said corruption has continued to dent the image of the institution. “We need to fight corruption and have zero tolerance to corruption. Justice is not and should never be looked at, taken or even perceived as commodity for sale,” Justice Kavuma said.
Judicial officers cited inadequate funding, understaffing, delayed release of funds, poor data collection, poor infrastructure, among others, as challenges hindering administration of justice.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor