Institutional heads can be committed to civil prison for contempt of Court- Bin-It Services Limited v Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and Executive Director, KCCA Miscellaneous Application No.593 of 2019.
The High Court decision vide HCMA 593 of 2019 set an important precedent on the power of court to commit institutional heads to civil prison for contempt of court orders. . This it did by issuing a six months suspended sentence to the executive director KCCA should non-compliance of Court orders persist.
On 14th April 2020, The Honourable Justice Ssekaana Musa found in favour of the Applicant Company that the Respondents were liable for contempt of court and disregarded the submission of the respondent that the applicant did not have a permit from National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA). Court found that this was an afterthought
On 21st June 2016, the Applicant Company through its lawyers Byenkya, Kihika & Co. Advocates (Ebert Byenkya and Anthony Bazira) applied to the High Court vide Miscellaneous Cause No.117 of 2016 for an order of Certiorari, Prohibition, Mandamus, damages and costs against the 1st Respondent, Kampala Solid Waste Management Consortium Limited and Homeklin Uganda Limited.
Subsequently, the court issued various orders against the Respondent. These among others included an order of certiorari quashing the decision of the Respondents which purported to conscript all residents of Kampala into the council’s garbage collection system without the option of residents contracting with authorised private collectors for solid waste collection service.
Following the non-compliance with the above orders, the Applicant Company sued KCCA and its Executive director in BIN-IT SERVICES LIITED v KAMPALA CAPITAL CITY AUTHORITY and EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KAMPALA CAPITAL CITY AUTHORITY vide Miscellaneous Application No.593 of 2019 for contempt of court.
Main ground upon which the above application was premised.
The main ground upon which this application was based was the violation of the existing Court Order by refusing to issue the Applicant with a Trading License despite the Applicant Company meeting all generally applicable and rational requirements for the business of collecting garbage in Kampala.
Issues for determination
- Whether the Respondents are in contempt of court orders issued in Miscellaneous Application No. 117 of 2016.
- What are the remedies available to the Applicant?
In resolving the first issue, Court held that there was a willful and malafide non-compliance with prior court orders directing the 1st respondent to issue the allow the private collectors like the applicant to be issued with trading licence in Miscellaneous Application 117 of 2016.
In resolving the second issue, Court observed that the Applicant had lost properties and money due to the Respondents’ frustrating its works in garbage collection.
Court thus held the respondent in contempt and ordered a suspended sentence of six months against the Executive director KCCA if the acts that were forbidden in the earlier decision persisted.
Court also granted exemplary damages of UGX. 150,000,000/= to the applicant with payment of interest at court rate from date of the ruling till payment in full.
Furthermore, Court awarded 20,000,000/= against the respondent as penalty for contempt of court orders.
In addition, Court ordered that KCCA’s officials would be directly responsible to pay a further sum of UGX. 25,000,000/= per month for any further contempt of the court order after the ruling.
Court directed the Deputy Registrar of the same court to inform the Inspectorate of Government and other concerned offices about the ruling of court.
Court also awarded the taxed costs of the application to the Applicant.
Relevance of the decision
This decision means that institutional heads can be committed to civil prison for contempt of Court and Court re-echoes the mandatory nature of Court orders.
In the realm of administrative law, Court condemns corruption as administrative decisions cease to be objective and merit based but subjective. The decision-makers lean towards those who grease their palms.
The Court also re-echoed the position that Court orders are not a mere suggestion, opinion, point of view but rather a directive issued after much thought and with circumspection.
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