THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF
(BEFORE: J.W.N. TSEKOOKO, JSC, SINGLE JUDGE)
CRIMINAL APPLICATION No. 3 OF
CHARLES HARRY TWAGIRA APPLICANT
(APPLICATION ARISING FROM CRIMINAL APPLICATION NO. 2 OF
RULING: I received this application yesterday afternoon with a
request for it to be heard as a matter of urgency as a single judge. A practice
is growing in this Court of hearing such applications by single judge. See W.
Mukiibi Vs J. Semusambwa.
The applicant Charles Harry Twagira, was charged with the offences of (a)
embezzlement, in the first count, and (b) stealing by an
agent, in the second
count, in Buganda Road Chief Magistrate's Court in Criminal Case
He appears to have first appeared in Court on 12/9/2000.
Subsequently, the prosecution led evidence and closed its case. A submission
no case to answer was made. Both sides made lengthy written submissions. On
24/6/2002, the Chief Magistrate, Mr. Frank Nigel Othembi,
gave a rather detailed
ruling, covering 13 pages, holding that the prosecution had established a prima
facie case against the accused
on both counts and therefore he should be put to
his defence. The applicant was dissatisfied with the ruling and so he petitioned
the High Court under sections 339 and 341 (1) (b) and (5) of the Criminal
Procedure Code for an order to revise the ruling of the
Chief Magistrate on the
ground that the Chief Magistrate had misdirected himself on the law which led to
his finding that there was
a case to answer. On 16/9/2002, Bamwine, J.,
dismissed the petition holding that
"There is nothing irregular about the procedure adopted by the trial
Magistrate so far or any thing prejudicial to the petitioner
on the face of the
record to warrant a revisional order."
The learned judge remitted the proceedings to the trial Court for the trial
to continue from where it had stopped. The applicant was
dissatisfied with that
order and so he appealed to the Court of Appeal. In its judgment dated
19/8/2003, dismissing the appeal, that
court held that (page 10): -
"We entertain no doubt in this case, there was a prima facie case against
the appellant and some explanations as a matter of common
sense were required as
observed by the Chief Magistrate"
Still the appellant was
dissatisfied with that judgment and so he lodged a notice of appeal intending to
appeal to this Court.
By virtue of S.6 (5) of the Judicature Statute, 1996, the applicant can in
this case only appeal against the judgment of the Court
of Appeal either with
leave and certificate from that Court or with leave of this Court. By virtue of
Rule 40 (1) of the Rules of
this Court, the applicant generally must first seek
leave from the Court of Appeal and if the leave is refused, then he can apply
this Court. His application for certification by the former court is now pending
in that court, and according to the affidavit
of the applicant accompanying the
present application, the Court of Appeal is unlikely to hear the application,
for the necessary
certificate, till some time next month. According to the same
affidavit, the Chief Magistrate meantime intends to resume hearing
the case by
22/9/2003. To pre-empt the continuation of the hearing of the case and because
the application for certificate in the
Court of Appeal cannot be heard till next
month, the applicant instituted in this Court Criminal Application No.2 of 2003
he seeks orders of this court that:
appeal be heard.|
|(b)||A stay of proceedings in
Buganda Road Criminal Case No.1423 of|
2000 , be ordered pending the determination of this
As that Criminal Application (No.2 of 2003) was pending in this Court, the
applicant institute in this Court Criminal Application
No.3 of 2003 (the subject
of this ruling) seeking for orders that;
"an interim order of stay of proceedings in Buganda Road Criminal Case
No.1423 of 2000 Uganda Vs Charles Harry Twagira be ordered pending the
final determination of Criminal Application No.2 of
It is this last application which is the subject of
this ruling. I found it necessary to give the foregoing background to appreciate
the opinion, I will give in this application.
The application was brought
under Rules 1 (3) and 41 of the Rules of this Court and Section 6 (5) of the
Judicature Statute 1996.
It was presented exparted because, according to
Mr. Karugaba, counsel for the applicant, the matter is urgent. I asked counsel
to satisfy me about the necessity
for an exparte application. He referred me to
his certificate of urgency which he signed. Although I was doubtful whether
real urgency for this application, especially since there was a
pending application in the Court of Appeal for certificate and another
application in this Court, I decided to hear Mr. Karugaba.
The grounds in support of the application are set out in the Notice of Motion
as follows: -
1. The applicant has filed Criminal Application No.2 of 2003
seeking inter alia orders for stay of proceedings in Buganda Road Criminal
No. 1423 of 2000 UGANDA -VS-CHARLES HARRY TWAGIRA.
|2.||The application has
been served on the Respondents and is to be fixed for
|3.||The Trial Magistrate
has ordered the Applicant to go on his defence in Buganda Road Criminal Case
No.1423 of 2000 UGANDA-VS- CHARLES HARRY TWAGIRA from which this appeal
stems on 22nd September,
|4.||The said application
will be rendered a nullity if the stay of proceedings is not
|5.||There is a real
likelihood that the Application will be wrongly convicted and a miscarriage of
justice will be occasioned if the stay
of proceedings is not
|6.||That in order to
observe and maintain the applicant's constitutional right to a fair trial and
his presumption of innocence under
Article 28 of the Constitution, it is
imperative that a stay be ordered halting the trial until the applicant has
his right of appeal"|
summary of the above listed five grounds upon which the application to stay the
continuation of the trial is that the applicant
should be allowed to exhaust
his right of appeal.
Now the right of appeal of an accused person appearing in a magistrates Court
is conferred by section 216 of the Magistrates Act,
1970 and section 6 (5) of
Judicature Statute. The applicant is being tried by a Chief Magistrate. In so
far as relevant the applicable
provisions of section 216 state:
"216 (1) subject to the provisions of any other written law and save as
provided in this section, an appeal shall
(a) to the High Court, by any person convicted on a trial by a court
presided over by a Chief Magistrate.
(2) Any appeal under subsection (1) of this section may be on a matter of
fact as well as on a matter of law."
the above provisions do not confer a right of appeal to the High Court in
respect of interlocutors matter, i.e., discretionary
orders or rulings of the
Chief Magistrate in criminal matters. This may explain why, after the Chief
Magistrates ruling that the
applicant had a case to answer, the applicant chose
to seek from High Court a revisional order rather than a decision in appeal.
me this course appears to affect his right of appeal to this
The applicant has relied on S.6 (5) of the Judicature Statute,
1996 for the view that in these proceedings he has a right of appeal
Court. I doubt it. The provision states in so far as relevant that-
"6 (5) where the appeal emanates from a judgment of a Chief Magistrate or
Magistrate Grade I in exercise of their original jurisdiction
and the accused
person ...has appealed to
the High Court and the Court of Appeal, the accused, may lodge a third appeal
to the Supreme Court with the certificate of the Court
of Appeal that the matter
raises a question or questions of law of great public or general importance, or
if the Supreme Court in
its overall duty to see that justice is done, considers
that the appeal should be heard,
In my view this
provision is in line with the provisions of S.216 of MCA. The Statute does not
define the word "Judgment". The above
quoted S.6 (5) refers to a judgment of a
Chief Magistrate. Article 257 (1) of the Constitution interprets the word
interprets it this way-
"Judgment" includes a decision, an order or decree of a
In my view, this interpretation means a final decision of a court, but not a
discretionary order or ruling in an interlocutory matter
such as a finding that
there is a prima facie case as the Chief Magistrate did. Through my own
research, I have found a number of
decisions, e.g, by Lewis, J. in Criminal
Appeal No. 397 of 1959 (Mohamed Taki Vs R.),Case No. 107 MB NO.7//60
where the judge held that the decision of the Magistrate in that case that there
was no case to answer
was one of law giving to the crown a right of appeal.
However, that decision, like the others I quote latter in this ruling, is to
understood on the basis that the accused was acquitted by the trial magistrate
at the closing of the prosecution case and therefore,
the decision of the
Magistrate was a final judgment. The reverse is not true. This remains the law
even up to now.
The decision of Bamwine,J, and of the Court of Appeal are
interlocutory decisions and not final decisions.
Mr. Karugaba contended
that the applicant has, under Art. 28 of the Constitution, a right to a fair
trial. So he should be enabled
to persue his right of appeal to this Court
before the trial in the Chief Magistrate's Court. He argued that it will be
the applicant to suffer a full trial, conviction and sentence before
he can challenge the propriety of the trial.
I am not, with respect, persuaded by these arguments. To me a fair trial, or
a fair hearing, under Art.28, means that a party should
be afforded opportunity
to, inter alia, hear the witnesses of the other side testify openly; that he
should, if he chooses, challenge
those witnesses by way of cross-examination;
that he should be given opportunity to give his own evidence in his defence;
should, if he so wishes, call witnesses to support his case. In this
case, the prosecution has called its witnesses who have been
behalf of the applicant. The applicant has been asked to give his side of the
story. Instead of giving his side
of the story, he is challenging the ruling
that says he should give his side of the case.
Article 28 upon which Mr.
Karugaba relies requires the applicant to be afforded a fair and SPEEDY trial.
In my view the steps taken
so far appear to hinder speeding up the
I am a little perplexed by the submission that it is unjust for
the applicant to "suffer a full trial, conviction and sentence." Until
is concludes resulting in either acquittal or conviction of applicant, I do not
think that it is reasonable for counsel
for the applicant to anticipate
conviction and sentence. If there is any good cause to suspect that the Chief
Magistrates will not
conduct the trial properly, there are better ways of
challenging him. I do not think it would be promoting justice and speedy trial
to stay proceedings in this case. The case must be brought to an end, one way or
There are many decided cases which illustrate the practice to be followed in
case an accused is dissatisfied with the trial courts'
ruling on prima facie
case. That is to appeal at the conclusion of the trial and include as many
grounds as are relevant in the grounds
of appeal any complaints about wrong
finding that there was or there was no case to answer. Example are
Jethwa and Another Vs Republic (1969) EA 459 CA,
Republic Vs Wachira (1975) EA 262, Republic Vs Kidasa (1973) EA
368 and Merali Vs Uganda (1963) EA 647.
All these are appeals where the trial magistrates had concluded the trial at
the close of prosecution case and had given final decisions.
So there was a
right of appeal as explained in each case. I have carefully studied the notice
of motion inclusive of the supporting
affidavits and the annextures thereto. I
also have considered the submissions of counsel for the applicant. Having looked
law cited in these proceedings I am of the frank opinion that even if I
took the generous view that either the Court of Appeal or
this Court will grant
leave for an appeal to be filed in this Court so that the Court considers the
issue raised by the applicant,
I do not envisage the likelihood of this court
acquitting this applicant before he makes his defence in the Chief Magistrates
If I had entertained that likelihood, there would have been justification
for me to grant interim stay of proceedings.
For the foregoing reasons, I
decline to grant an interim stay of proceedings in the Chief Magistrates Court.
The application is dismissed.
There is no justification.
The applicant will meet his costs.
In case I am wrong in my views on the matter, the applicant should pursue the
substantive application before the full Court.
Delivered at Mengo this 19th day of September
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT