FORMER president Rupiah Banda has told the Supreme Court that he is concerned with the long period it is taking to conclude the matter concerning the removal of his immunity.
Mr Banda said this through his lawyer Professor Patrick Mvunga when the matter came up for hearing on Thursday before a full Supreme Court bench led by Justice Marvin Mwanawambwa.
This was after Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa applied for adjournment of the matter to acquaint himself with the case.
“I have concerns of the period this matter has taken, I don’t expect this application but we have no objections. Just as the Solicitor General explained, the matter was under the former Attorney General,” Prof Mvunga said.
Mr Mwansa said he was not aware of the matter until Thurday morning and that it was not possible for him proceed with the matter which was under the former Attorney General Musa Mwenye.
He said the last time the matter was heard, fundamental and constitutional issues which require serious attention arose.
“Unfortunately, I was only advised that the matter is coming up today (Thursday). I didn’t have time to acquaint myself with issues raised.
It is in this vain that I seek your indulgence to adjourn the matter so that I can go through the heads of arguments that both parties have filed in court so that I can understand them,” Mr Mwansa said.
He said he assumed the office late last year and that before that time it was being handled by the former Attorney General and that an adjournment of 21 days would be fine for him.
Mr Justice Mwanamwambwa said the reasons advanced for applying for an adjournment were strange. “I grant your application for an adjournment. However I find those reasons strange,” Mr Justice Mwanamwambwa said.
The judge set April 2 this year as the date for trial of the matter.
According to Mr Banda’s appeal, the court below erred in law and in fact when it ruled that the leave will not operate as a stay of the decision made by the National Assembly to remove his immunity.
Last week, the State asked the Supreme Court to dismiss with costs of Mr Banda’s appeal where he is challenging Lusaka High Court’s refusal to grant him a stay of the decision by National Assembly to strip him of his immunity.
The Attorney General’s Chambers submitted that High Court judge Annie Sitali did not err in her ruling. It argued that it was misleading to argue that an order of stay in judicial review proceedings was ancillary to the order granting leave to move for judicial review.
“It is therefore, our prayer that this ground of appeal be dismissed with costs,” the Attorney General’s Chambers said.
It stated that Order 53 rule 3 (10) of the Supreme Court practice gave discretion to the judge whether or not to grant the stay of the proceedings to which the applicant related.
“It is our submission that this order gives discretion to the judge whether or not to grant a stay of the proceedings to which the application relates.
A proper reading of the order [cited above] clearly demonstrates that the court has the discretion to grant a stay or not and that it is not mandatory as it depends on the discretion of the court.”