Your columnist, Ilica Malkanthi Karunaratne, in her column titled “Political Circus Hits Town”, published on 11 September 2018, has chosen to make certain derogatory references to me. I am sorry that Ilica, whom I have known for several years, has done so. She states in her column:
“We also have Nihal of CJC fame jumping in like a Bull in a China Shop to give his professorial bill (sic) a hand, in stating that there was no impediment in the pseudo-Emperor contesting the Presidency again. The latter has unfortunately not changed his clothes, literally or metaphorically, and Nihal may find that visions of CJC become more than a blast from the past in the minds of the people. Political leaders must act like Statesmen with dignity and fortitude through all seasons, … ‘meet with both triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.” (The highlights appear in the text as published).
I do not think the last sentence applies to me since I am not a “political leader”; nor have I ever been a politician. I do not understand what the reference to me being “of CJC fame” means. Assuming that “CJC” refers to the two Criminal Justice Commissions that functioned in the early 1970s, I was not a Judge or Prosecutor in either Commission. I was not accused before the CJC that tried persons responsible for the JVP April 1971 Insurgency. I was not accused before the CJC that tried persons accused of exchange control offences. I did not draft the CJC Bill. In fact, it was drafted by the Legal Draftsman on the instructions of the then Attorney General, the late Victor Tennekoon QC.
Ilica clams that I “jumped in like a Bull in a China Shop to give his professorial bill (sic) a hand”. She refers to an article written by me that was recently published in two newspapers. She apparently does not know that a trained lawyer and a qualified academic does not act in that manner. She also appears to be unaware that in two previous articles I had already noted what I believed were certain unintended consequences of the 19th Amendment. Having regard to the circumstances in which the 19th Amendment was enacted, with an entire chapter being deleted and replaced in Court, and numerous amendments being proposed from both sides of the aisle and being accepted by an exasperated Minister of Justice as the clock moved menacingly towards midnight, it is no surprise that a clear copy of the Bill as amended was not available for certification by the Speaker for an inordinately long period of time.
In my recent article I examined the implications of Parliament abolishing the existing office of President and replacing it with a new office of President with considerably diminished powers. I did not write that article at anyone’s request, as Ilica alleges I did. I did not share my manuscript with anyone before I sent it to two editors, as Ilica suggests I may have done. The views I expressed in it were mine, and mine alone.The fact that I argue that there is a defect in a law does not mean that I advocate that others should take advantage of that defect, as Ilica appears to believe I intended. I have a strong belief in the democratic norm that no elected Head of State should serve more than two terms. I also believe that this country was best served, for nearly three decades, by a constitutional Head of State. Therefore, the remedy for this constitutional conundrum surely lies in the enactment of the 20th Amendment as proposed by the JVP.