Delivering the Lalith Atulathmudali Oration in 2012,C. G. Weeramanthri - Former vice President of International Court of Justice, said,“If public confidence in the judiciary is lost, there can be no rule of law.”The Solicitor General is a post subordinate to the Attorney General. The SG, assisted by four Additional Solicitors General assists the AG. Daily Mirror on October 1, reported that Suhada Gamalath has been asked to resign for violating procedures. The AG’s Department, formally adopted in the year 1884, though come under the purview of the Ministry of Justice is actually a non-ministerial government department in Sri Lanka. The department is headed by the AG, the office of ‘Attorney General’. It provides legal assistance to the Government, Provincial Councils, Statutory Boards, Government Departments, and Semi Government institutions; advice them on Constitutional, Civil, Criminal, and Commercial matters.
AG is the legal advisor to State, President and the Speaker, and is supposed to be impartial, independent, and fair. Except for DS and SWRD, the rest of Heads of Government and Ministers of Justice did not hesitate to desecrate, at varying degrees, the hallowed grounds of the Temple of Justice.
"Mahinda Rajapaksa brought the AG’s department directly under his purview, thereby undermining the concept of separation of powers"
Mahinda Rajapaksa brought the AG’s department directly under his purview, thereby undermining the concept of separation of powers. This unique move endangered the concept of Rule of Law and the entire Criminal Justice system. AGs were unjustifiably influenced, made to leave and members of private bar replacing them happened even during the 1960s and 70s as well. Felix R. Dias Bandaranaike, Minister of Justice under Sirimavo Bandaranaike, once made an ad hoc appointment to Attorney General’s office and abused the office through his man during 1970-77 government. Ranasinghe Premadasa ignored rank to promote a junior lawyer [by-passing seniors], to the post of Secretary to the Judicial Services Commission. He directly interfered in making appointments and transfers of judges under his influence.
AGs under Dudley Senanayake
Dr. Mackie Ratwatte, PM Sirimavo’s brother cum private secretary once rejected a bribe from an Indian businessman who wanted to obtain Sri Lankan citizenship during her rule [1960-64]. He in turn complained that Ratwatte solicited a bribe. The next government of Dudley Senanayake[1965-70] wanted to use the Indian businessman against Ratwatte. Victor Tennakoon, an honourable officer was the Attorney General who disagreed, finding no prima facie case against Ratwatte: Tennakoon was [kicked upstairs] removed, promoted a Supreme Court Judge unlike now, and a UNPer, from the private Bar, A. C. M. Ameer QC was made the AG. He was the brother–in-law of the person who contested Balangoda electorate against Clifford Ratwatte, another brother of Sirimavo and Mackie.
Ameer under obligation prosecuted Dr. MackieRatwatte on a trump up indictment of accepting a bribe from the businessman. However, the District Court dismissed the case at the first hearing without even calling for defence. [Ref.Bradman Weerakoon-2004-pge 155]
Felix Dias was responsible for quite a few instances of interference with the affairs of Hulftsdorf during Sirimavo’s 1970-77 government. He abused Bribery Commission through its head Ian Wickramanayake and his favourite Judge Manohara, of the District Court, which prompted Prince of Silver Screen, Gamini Fonseka to produce the film Sagarayak Meda.
Sri Lanka was once ranked at the bottom on South East Asia’s, index on ‘Lack of Rule of Law’. When Chandrika Bandaranaike appointed Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake to the Supreme Court in 1996—several leading lawyers filed action protesting against it for Justice Mark Fernando to overrule them; and when MR made her the CJ, Senior lawyers and UNP protested, MR went a step further in appointing her husband as NSB Chairman where he was accused of investing funds in a losing share deal. MR was compelled by
opposition to sack him.
JR Allowed Private Practice for AG
AG was not allowed to engage in private practice, a precious rule incorporated in the interest of the Justice; a rule, or rather a tradition based on the English rule laid down in the 19th century. In July 1980, JR, violating the norm, AG and his subordinates in his Department were granted authorization to engage in private practice [in return for favours?]. Siva Pasupathi, the AG, thus made an historic appearance in the Court of Appeal in 1981, as private counsel for LRC. This attempt was disallowed by the Two-Judge Bench of the Court of Appeal; however, later it was endorsed by the SC.
Dilrukshi implies she followed politician’s orders
Details of a telephone conversation revealed alleged to have taken place between an accused [Chairman of Avant-Garde, Nissanka Senadhipathi in a case filed by the Bribery Commission] and former Director-General of Dilrukshi Dias Wickremesinghe.
Nissanka Senadhipathi exposed a recorded conversation, a voice claimed by the accused, as SG’s says, ‘Because I never expected the business to stop because that was one of the best businesses in the country. I know Nissanka, if I ever had the slightest knowledge, …I don’t know if you will believe me or not. If I ever thought that you would lose your business, I would have never filed this case, because of this dirty politics. I have read over 7500 letters at your office. I have personally read all of them. So I know how you looked after your officers on the ship and how you looked after their families. I was very sad. I will not file an action against Gotabaya Rajapaksa. I regret everything that I did then. I know how to break the law and make the law both’.
"Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe expects investigations carried out into the alleged conversation by Dilrukshi and reveal the politicians who attempt to influence her"
To a question posed by Daily Mirror Interviewer on August 1, 2019 on pressure from the political authority, the SG said,
‘Even at CIABOC I had no such issue and I have a proven track record of not succumbing to pressure. So I am least worried about pressure….In fact, I took over the DG post at CIABOC, …because I as a citizen wanted a corruption-free country. …I will do anything within my power to serve the public and uphold the rule of law…. I will not care two hoots about it, I will never bow down to pressure.’
President claimed that PM had suggested the name of SG Dilrukshi Dias Wickremesinghe to be appointed as a Supreme Court judge. AG, De Livera had referred the matter to the Public Services Commission for an inquiry to be carried out against SG, Dilrukshi. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe expects investigations carried out into the alleged conversation by Dilrukshi and reveal the politicians who attempt to influence her. In the meantime it is understood that the case of extraditing former Governor Arjuna Mahendran is also assigned to Dilrukshi Wickramasinghe.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe further said, “According to the constitution, only the Chief Justice and the Attorney General are vested with the powers to make recommendations to such he claimed that he had not dishonoured the constitution.
Discussion on Sharing the Bond Scam Loot ?
Suhada Gamlath, former SG, a few days ago divulged to media how Ministers, Rajitha [Health] and Ranawake [Mega polis] of being excessively interested on the progress of the Avant Garde case, and wanted SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya arrested. They had exercised unjustified influence on him at a meeting held at Temple Trees, attended by Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Arjuna Mahendran. [did the matter come up in the midst of a discussion on sharing the Bond scam loot?]
Justice and Law Reforms Minister Thalatha Athukorala, under whose ministry the AG and SG operates had derelicted her duty by allowing her colleagues to intervene and wants action taken by the Presidential Secretariat to remove Suhada Gamalath, Chairman of the National Authority for Protection of Witnesses and Victims, if he fails to submit his resignation. She continued that Gamalath had committed an offence as a public officer by talking to the media on how he was pressurized to act against certain individuals.
“I appealed and the President’s Office had assured that action would be taken to remove him; he has dishonoured procedures which a state official should abide by.” Said the Minister. Gamalath responded saying, “I spoke the truth, I won’t resign, let them remove me.” Referring to an earlier controversial telephone conversation by former Solicitor General Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe, Gamalath said, “My statement is a consequence to what the other SG said. She has said that she was pressured by Ministers to act in that manner and I support that view. That was exactly what happened to me also. This is not politics but the reality that exists in the Public service,” he said.
We appreciate the bold stand taken by Gamalath. He had the courage to act according to his convictions and conscience. He should not give in to the whims and fancies of good for nothing politicians weather they are in government or opposition, and whose days are numbered. Is telling the truth a crime? Civil society organizations and media should come forward and speak in favour of a fair investigation on allegations by Suhada Gamalath, the whistleblower; and he should be protected.
Mahatma Gandhi once stated,
“There is a higher Court than the Court of Justice and that is the Court of Conscience.”