Commercial High Courts in disarray

27 June 2015 07:53 am - 11     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Commercial High Court, the only court which has jurisdiction into specialized areas of Law in the island, is in complete disarray, following the shuffling of judges at least 5 times during the past six months.

As a result cases heard before the judges have been transferred and  re-transferred to and from different courts and different judges in accordance with the sporadic changes made.

The Court has exclusive jurisdiction into matters related to Company Law and Intellectual Property Law. Apart from this the court hears matters pertaining to Admiralty law, Debt Recoveries by banks and all commercial transactions worth over 5 million rupees in the Western Province.

The Commercial High Court of the Country comprises three branches- named as Commercial High Court 1, 2, and 3 respectively.

The Court is considered to be a pivotal point of swift and efficient administration of justice, as Commercial transactions are often dependent on stringent time factors.

Lawyers and litigants of the Commercial High Court expressed dismay at the mode on which the judges were shifted in rapid succession.

“Many cases have been partially heard by one judge and then suddenly it was move to another judge in January this year. Then after some hearings now the same has been shifted to another judge. Some of the cases have to be heard all over again and every case has suffered long delays" litigants said.

Earlier Justice L.T.B Dehideniya was sitting in Court number 1 of the three branch court. Mr. Aruna Ranasinghe was sitting judge in Court number 2 and Mr. Amendra Senevirathne was presiding over court number 3.

The shifting of judges commenced this year with the promotion of High Court Judge L.T.B Dehideniya as a judge of the Court of Appeal on January 30.

Mr. Ruwan Fernando thereafter assumed duties as the judge of Commercial High Court 3. Mr. Aruna Ranasinghe who was previously sitting in Commercial Court 2 was transferred to fill in the vacancy left by Justice Dehideniyas promotion, as Judge of High Court 1.

The vacancy was filled after a lapse of close to three weeks since the promotion of Justice Dehideniya.

Mr. Amendra Senevirathne who was sitting in Court number 3, was transferred to Court number 2.

Following the transfers all cases were assigned and re- assigned causing delay, confusion and procedural dilemmas.

Escalating the prevalent confusion - sitting judge of Court number 1, Aruna Ranasinghe was transferred out of the Commercial High Courts in early June. Mr. E.G.A.R Amarasekara was appointed in his place thereafter.

Mr. Ruwan Fernando, who was hearing all cases in High Court number 3, was also transferred out of the Commercial High Court on the June 19th. All cases heard before Mr Fernando were then again re- transferred to Mr. Amendra Senevirathne who was re- reappointed as judge of Court 3 having previously been transferred from Court number 3 to Court number 2.

Mr. Shiran Gunarathne was appointed as Judge of High Court number 2 on June 22nd, taking over from Mr. Amendra Senevirathne.

The entire issue has taken a further step following the appointment of Mr. Gunarathne as a Judge of the Trial-at-Bar appointed to hear the case in which MP Duminda Silva and others have been indicted.

Mr. Amendra Senevirathne who is a sitting judge at the High Court, is also a member of the Trial-at-Bar hearing the murder case involving former DIG. Vass Gunawardena.

The appointment of Mr. Senevirathne as a judge of the Trial-at-Bar, who is also a member of a Presidential Commission has also been a cause of concern for litigants, as many cases have been postponed owing to the Trial-at-Bar and other official duties he has been assigned apart from his duties on the Commercial Court.

Litigants fear the same predicament would follow when the Duminda Silva trial commences.

Earlier, the High Court of Civil Appeal in the Western Province faced the same issue following the promotion of Justice Lyonne Senevirathne. The Appointments were filled after a lapse of close to two months, with cases which were to be heard during the hiatus being postponed for months.

Minister of Justice Wijedasa Rajapaksa PC said that the transfers do not fall within the scope of the Ministry.

" The sole and exclusive authority for these transfers is vested with the Judicial Services Commission headed by the Chief Justice. The Ministry has no link to it. The JSC is a completely independent body headed by the Chief Justice and it is they who are in charge of these transfers" he said.

President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka Geoffrey Alagarathnam PC said that they have raised the issue with the Chief Justice.

“We have made representations regarding this to the Chief Justice. It has resulted in the disruption of work. But there are practical problems that those appointing have faced which has led to this. We are making representations and following this up" he told Daily Mirror.

Attempts to contact the Judicial Service Commission proved futile as the webpage indicating contact details continuously displayed an 'error message'. (Hafeel Farisz)
 

 
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  Comments - 11

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  • Gayan Sunday, 28 June 2015 07:06 PM

    Entire country in disarray after JAN 8. Time to fix it.

    Rosh Tuesday, 30 June 2015 09:48 AM

    Whats NOT in disarray via DM Android App

    Sikuru Saturday, 27 June 2015 01:59 PM

    Removing a few judges to the trial-at-bar of Sajin Vaas created this mess?. geez

    Patriot Sunday, 28 June 2015 09:46 AM

    What is not in disarray now? Now everything is hitan know!!!

    Amila Saturday, 27 June 2015 02:27 PM

    File a case at HC.

    Fair N Square Saturday, 27 June 2015 04:34 PM

    The court system was a money making machinery in the previous regime... now its gradually falling into place... still there would be abusers...

    Saman Saturday, 27 June 2015 05:19 PM

    Is this news? What courts are not in disarray?

    Lawabiding Saturday, 27 June 2015 06:09 PM

    For once they themselves feel the pinch. Delaying court cases were soul property of judges. Clients paid their lawyers by begging and borrowing when their mafia delayed cases.

    Bokku Kata Saturday, 27 June 2015 06:56 PM

    Yama palanaya?

    Prem Nath Saturday, 27 June 2015 07:36 PM

    Worse than the previous regime.

    kkkk Saturday, 27 June 2015 08:33 PM

    some say good judicial service in Lanka via DM Android App


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