City lawyer, Hassan Male Mabirizi is a man who has made a name for himself out of always dragging persons and institutions to courts of law over everything and anything. Well, he is at it again. He has this time round dragged the newly appointed Judiciary Permanent Secretary, Pius Bigirimana to court for scrapping the 30 percent allowance for judicial officials that was approved by cabinet in 2014.
In a suit before the High Court Civil Division, Bigirimana is jointly sued with the Attorney General. Mabirizi’s suit stems from an August 27th, 2019 internal memo issued by Bigirimana and addressed to court Registrars, their Assistants and Magistrates clarifying their monthly salary and allowances.
“There has been an error in the monthly Judicial Allowances paid to the lower bench, which has been inconsistent with the figures approved by cabinet as per the Cabinet Extract number 19 of 2014,” reads the memo. The extract states that cabinet resolved that the Ministry of Public Service had approved a Consolidated Allowance of 30 percent of the salary of judicial officer payable per month.
However, Bigirimana notes in his memo that “an error rose due to the automatic increase of judicial officers’ allowances on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System-IPPS by the Public Service Ministry every time there is salary enhancement for the lower bench.”
He added that the purpose of this memo was therefore to correct the error and clarify that the monthly salary and judicial allowance entitlement are not one and the same. While the salary may increase, over time, the allowance was fixed as approved by cabinet. He also explained that the Ministry of Public Service had been duly notified of the error and the correct judicial allowance figures will be reflected on the pay slips in the month of September, 2019.
But Mabirizi contends that Bigirimana as the Secretary to the Judiciary doesn’t have powers to alter cabinet decisions. He argues that there is no error as the Cabinet approved a 30 percent consolidated allowance, which changes with the change in salary. He contends that Bigirimana’s memo is illegal, irrational and unreasonable adding that it undermines the independence of the Judiciary.