Decisional Independence of Judicial officers in Uganda

Decision independence refers to the ability of a decision maker to avoid and resist external influences and temptations (greed, threats, fear, ambition, corruption, conflict of interest, wokeness, political correctness) such that the eventual decision by the decision maker is based solely on the facts and the law as he or she honestly understands them.

Per Justice Mubiru in John Imaniraguha v Uganda Revenue Authority, MISCELLANEOUS APPLICATION No. 2770 OF 2023

Decisional independence posits that a judicial officer should decide cases solely based on the law and facts that are applicable free from outside pressures or inducements, free of influence or control
by other actors, whether governmental or private, without regard to political, administrative or popular pressure, without regard to the fact that there are some who would corrupt the judicial
decision-making process for their own advantage, without regard to partisanship, fear of intimidation, or special interests. Judicial officers should not be afraid of the effect an unpopular but legally sound decision might have on their transfer, elevation, confirmation, promotion or appointment. Unless decisional independence is guaranteed, this would create a temptation for judicial officers to make decisions based on how it would be perceived by those in power from time to time without regard for the law. The Judicial officers’ duty is to apply the law as he or she understands it. Upon entry of a final decision of Court, a disappointed litigant may attack the decision in several ways. If a higher court has jurisdiction to hear the case, he or she may launch a direct attack through appeal. Alternatively, he or she might file an application, attempting to squeeze the case into the exceptions to the functus officio rule, before the same Court which made the decision, but should not seek to upset the decision by administrative edict. A judgment or order of Court cannot be changed by administrative edict.

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