The Constitutional Court in Kampala has nullified the entire Narcotic, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act of 2016 on grounds that it was passed without the required quorum in Parliament.
Five Justices led by Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera, Supreme Court Judge Stephen Musota, Muzamiru Mutangula Kibeedi , Irene Mulyagonja and Monica Mugyenyi have today unanimously allowed a 2017 petition filed by Wakiso Miraa Growers and Dealers Association Limited against the Attorney General.
The petitioners through their lawyers led by Isaac Ssemakadde challenged the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act for prohibiting and criminalizing the cultivation, possession, consumption, sale, distribution, transportation, and exportation of Miraa commonly known as Mairungi by classifying it as a prohibited plant.
“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.
According to the petitioners, the prohibition was not backed up by any scientific evidence yet it had a disruptive effect on the livelihood , property, cultural, and social economic rights of the petitioners who are Mairungi farmers, sellers, and consumers.
However, Vincent Nsubuga the Chairperson of Wakiso Miraa Growers and Dealers Association Limited explained that the crop should be treated as a delicacy as it is a source of their family incomes and their children’s school fees.
In their judgment, the Justices have agreed with Mairungi farmers that the process of passing the bill was flawed as the required number of MPs was absent on November 19, 2015, when the said Bill was passed and the Deputy Speaker by then did not take it upon himself to ascertain the existence of required quorum.
As such, the Justices have ruled that Parliament breached its own rules of procedure as the existence of quorum at the voting stage means the bill receives the majority of the sufficient number of votes in order for it to be lawfully passed.
Consequently, the Justices have declared the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Control Act of 2016 null and void and accordingly ordered the government to pay the farmers costs they have spent on this petition.