The Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala has dismissed an application in which National Unity Platform’s (NUP) Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, ran to court to save his car from being impounded by tax body, Uganda Revenue Authority.
The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) commissioner in charge of customs, Abel Kagumire wrote to Kyagulanyi informing him of the decision to recall the vehicle, a Land Cruiser 200 series, after an inquiry was established into circumstances under which it was imported into the country.
URA said the vehicle was declared to customs as an ordinary vehicle and not an armoured one, and therefore, less taxes were paid for it, and consequently, there is a need to have another inspection. However, Kyagulanyi petitioned the court to stop the car from being impounded.
In a ruling delivered on Tuesday, Justice Emmanuel Baguma said the purpose of granting a temporary injunction just like Kyagulanyi did is to preserve the status quo until the question to be investigated in the main suit is finally disposed of.
He however noted that this is not the case with Kyagulanyi’s case.
“In the instant application, the applicant’s motor vehicle was assessed, cleared and subsequently registered by URA on 12th January 2021. From this information, it is not in dispute that the purpose of recalling the motor vehicle is strictly for re-verification/re-examination. At this stage, the law does not require the court to delve into the merits of the main suit. All that is required to be proved is that there is a serious issue to be tried by the court and that, that issue is neither frivolous nor vexatious,” the judge said in his ruling.
In his application, Kyagulanyi said the armoured vehicle in question was in URA’s possession where it was examined, assessed and taxed as required before it was released to him as required per the law.
He argued that it beats his understanding for URA to seek to do another verification exercise having been through the process already.
In response, URA said the vehicle was declared to customs as an ordinary vehicle and not an armoured one, and therefore, it was undervalued.
“Armored vehicles are restricted items under the Customs law and the law regulating the Uganda People’s Defence Forces and requires special permission to import or own and thus it would only be proper if the applicant(Kyagulanyi) cooperates with the respondent(URA) to clarify on and clear the matter as the law requires,” URA said.
However, according to Justice Baguma, for an injunction just like one applied for by Kyagulanyi to be granted, the applicant must show that they will suffer irreparable loss or injury if it is not granted.
“Basing on the submissions by counsel for the applicant, the main worry or concern for sending back the alleged motor vehicle for re-verification or reexamination is that the said motor vehicle is the applicant’s main means of transport and his personal security. However, this honorable court was not satisfied with such submissions. “
“It is therefore my considered view that the applicant has not adduced evidence to show that the re-calling of the said motor vehicle for re-verification or reexamination will cause him irreparable injury which cannot be compensated by an award of damages. The application therefore fails and it is hereby dismissed.”
The ruling means that in case Kyagulanyi fails to take the vehicle to URA by himself, URA will proceed to impound it for re-inspection after being given green light by court.