By Our Court Reporters
The Constitutional Court in sitting in Kampala has annulled the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 2015 which had hitherto outlawed the sale and use of several narcotic drugs in the country because it was passed by parliament without the requisite quorum.
The court ruling came as a result of a petition which was filed by a Wakiso district based farmers group called Wakiso Miraa Growers and Dealers Association Ltd that challenged that law which barred the growing and selling of Marijuana and Mairungi crops as being narcotic and dangerous to society .
In their 2017 petition, the farmers sought reliefs from the Constitutional Court among others to find the law which was passed by parliament as being unconstitutional and therefore null and void . They further argued through their lawyers that the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Contro) Act of 2015 was inconsistent with principles of legality, equality, rationality and proportionality guaranteed under the constitution since they were never consulted.
The dealers challenged the provisions of the Act which prohibited the cultivation, possession, consumption, sale, purchase, warehousing, distribution, transportation, exportation, importation and other dealings in the crop arguing that there was no evidence, scientific or otherwise to prove that it was dangerous to the wellbeing of society .
“In the premises, I would declare the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 2015 null and void for lack of quorum on the part of parliament contrary to articles 88 and 89 of the Constitution and rule 23 of the Rules of Procedure of the 9th parliament ,2012 made, pursuant to articles 88 and 94 of the Constitution,” Justice Muzamiru Mutangula Kibeedi said in a lead judgement.
The panel of five justices who included the Deputy Chief Justice, Richard Buteera, Justice Stephen Musota, Justice Muzamiru Mutangula Kibeedi, Justice Irene Mulyagonja and Justice Monica K . Mugyenyi , parliament did not have quorum when it passed the said law.
“At the stage of voting, the Bill must receive the sufficient number of votes in order for it to be lawfully passed. The sufficient number of votes is prescribed by Article 89(1) of the Constitution. They consist majority of the quorum.”
The justices of the Constitutional Court therefore ruled that a Bill passed without the following the set out legal procedures is null and void.
“I have already established that from the above evidence before this court, the speaker failed to ascertain the quorum as required by rule 23(3) of the rules of procedure of the 9th parliament, 2012. I have also made a finding that the evidence before court supported the petitioners’ claim that there was no quorum at the time of passing the bill for the enactment of the act. As such, there is nothing about the impugned act to be saved,” he ruled .
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