Opinionated: During our last Saturday `Investigator Show` on UNN online television, this writer opined that; his ability to suppress the four pillars, of Media, Parliament, Executive and the Judiciary, makes city tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia the biggest economic, social and political problem currently faced by Country Uganda.
Hardly three days after, the Investigator has landed on a case, where the Country`s Judicial Boss, Hon Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo is grappling with an application requiring him to reverse his recent ruling in the matter against the person of Sudhir Ruparelia and his trading Company, Meera Investments Limited (MIL).
For starters, and in ordinally means, it’s about a case which Sudhir had, way back in 2020, filed against Bank of Uganda, challenging them on a technicality, arguing that Crane Bank in Receivership could not sue and or be sued. Bank of Uganda retaliated by filing an appeal against the same. Understandably (at least in reference to our intro above), BoU lost the case at High Court, Court of Appeal but continued up to the Supreme Court.
However, at some point, the BoU legal brains took a drastic change of mind in a manner that got many shocked, but in equal measures, sent Sudhir and his fans into world class celebrations. On 16th September 2021, the media was awash by sponsored stories of how BoU had the previous day, 15th September 2021, withdrawn their appeal with costs to the tycoon. Many missed the tactical move by BoU and joined the celebrations.
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo, surprisingly slipped into bed with Sudhir and entertained his application challenging the withdrawal he had himself embraced and jubilated to. In his application, he prayed that Court instead rejects the withdrawal and dismiss BoU Appeal with costs instead.
Indeed, and maybe surprising to those in less knowledge of our intro of this report, Hon. Justice Owiny-Dollo and his team on October 4th 2021 entertained Sudhir`s prayers and issued a ruling against the already extracted and hence inexistent BoU Appeal, dismissing it with costs.
Their regrettable stance left no option for BoU legal minds BUT to labor and take the learned Justices onto a sojourn for a refresher `course` of the law. In regard to Sudhir`s prayer to have the withdrawal rejected, BoU lawyers of J.B Byamugisha reminded the Registrar of the Supreme Court on how a withdrawal can`t be challenged by anyone save for the appellant of the same.
Challenging and calling for stoppage of their hitherto hours-away ruling, Byamugisha Advocates wrote on October 4th 2021 thus; “On 15th September 2021, the appellant, in Supreme Court Civil Appeal No. 7 of 2020, Crane Bank Limited [In Receivership] V Sudhir Ruparelia and Meera Investments Limited, lodged a notice of withdrawal of that appeal under Rule 90(1) of the Judicature Directions. The notice of withdrawal was signed and sealed by the Court on the same day.”
In a bid to save the Justices from passing a laughable ruling, the Advocates further labored; “The dismissal is by operation of law. Accordingly, under that Rule, the appeal stands dismissed with costs unless the court, on application of the appellant, otherwise orders. The appellant hasn`t made such application and indeed Court only has jurisdiction to entertain an application on the issue of costs.”
The fact that BoU lawyers toiled further to explain the inaccuracies of how the appeal had never been called for hearing at all, and that it had been fixed for mention on November 9th 2021 but then brought forward to September 30th 2021 after its withdrawal by the appellant BoU and dismissal by operation of law, did not in any way attract the attention of the obviously Sudhir Ruparelia fans at the Highest Court of the Land.
Sounds interesting? Now read this and get to know how it was a do-or-die job for the honorable Justices; “The notice of intended mention for 30th September 2021 was served on the appellant on 29th September 2021 after the demise of the appellant`s lead Counsel Dr. Joseph Byamugisha (a legendary respectable Court Official – Ed), on 28th September 2021. Moreover, it was by letter from the Deputy Registrar”!
Nevertheless, the Chief Justice-led team proceeded to deliver their ruling in a style legal mind termed `functus officio`, a legal doctrine which holds that once an arbitrator renders a decision regarding the issues submitted before them, they lack the power to reexamine the same decision. It is in these very pages where we reported how BoU` stance of withdrawing the Appeal was a tactical move.
And indeed, an application by Crane Bank Limited [in Receivership], Crane Bank Limited [in Liquidation] and Bank of Uganda have since been filed before the same Kololo premised Supreme Court, with prayers to have the ruling rescinded. The grounds onto which the Application is placed are so strong, debatably placing Hon. Justice Owiny-Dollo between a rock and hard surface and oh yes, in a tongue in cheek situation.
The fourteen-page Application, whose details will be reproduced in the follow-up story in these pages, is supported by the affidavit from none other than Margaret K. Kasule, the Legal Counsel of Bank of Uganda which is the statutory liquidator of Crane Bank Limited [In Liquidation]. Watch this space…
- Stanley Ndawula is a two and a half decades’ seasoned investigative journalist with a knack for serious crimes investigations and reporting. He’s the Founding Editorial Director and CEO at The Investigator Publications (U) Limited
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