Judge Isaac Muwata of the High Court has set September 13 as the deadline for Mukesh Shukla alias Shumuk to decide whether or not to allow him to amend his election suit challenging Joel Ssenyonyi’s victory as member of parliament for Nakawa West.
Shumuk’s attorneys, lead by Badru Bwango, told the court on Friday that they had the right to amend their election petition to include fresh grounds contesting Ssenyonyi’s election under the existing legal environment.
Bwango informed the court that it should consider their additional grounds in the interest of justice since they are too essential to dismiss. Shumuk accuses Ssenyonyi of lacking the necessary intellectual qualifications to run for office, let alone be a member of parliament, in the changes.
He cites differences in Ssenyonyi’s academic documents and those on the voters’ register as evidence that he is unfit to be an MP. Ssenyonyi’s lawyers, lead by Denis Atwijukire, responded early this week that the court has the authority to approve the revision of election petitions.
“Justice Bashaija ruled that once an election petition is submitted, any alteration will be viewed as a roadblock to a speedy trial. If this court approves an amendment, it will be breaking the legislation that regulates election petition trials and decisions, according to Atwijukire.
He also overruled Bwango’s objection to the Supreme Court’s use of a ruling in which former Presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi asked the court to allow him to amend his lawsuit challenging President Museveni’s election.
The Supreme Court, with the exception of one judge, dismissed Kyagulanyi’s application, claiming that the law did not allow it. Bwango stated in his comments that the judgement only extended to Presidential Petitions and not to legislative elections.
However, Atwijukire retorted that Kyagulanyi’s case is particularly pertinent to election petitions because the Justices went into great detail on the issue of extending statutory deadlines.
“The essential issue in their decision was that the court has no authority to force an election petition to be amended. As a result, doing so would be illegal. As a result, we restate our petition that this application is incompetent, that the applicants have no opportunity to amend, and that it be dismissed with costs to the second respondent,” Atwijukire said.
The Electoral Commission’s lawyer, Abubaker Kayondo, agreed with Atwijukire and requested for the motion to be dismissed with costs to both Ssenyonyi and Mukesh. The court will then begin the formal hearing of the main election petition after ruling on this topic.