Editorial - Listen to this elder statesman

2012-11-30 18:30:00

With the Legislature and the Judiciary on a potentially-disastrous collision course over the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, our law makers and politicians need to take guidance from an elder statesman in the judicial service if they sincerely love the country and wish to save it from dictatorial hell hole.

Justice C.G. Weeramanthri -- former senior vice president of the International Court of Justice and a man respected all over the world for maintaining the highest values and principles of the judicial service for some six decades – has warned that if public confidence in the judiciary is lost there can be no rule of law. This means Sri Lanka will have the law of the jungle with democracy buried in a white-washed sepulchre while dictatorial rule is enforced without checks or balances, accountability, transparency or good governance.

Delivering the Lalith Athulathmudali memorial lecture, the judicial prophet who heads the Weeramanthri Centre for International Peace said judicial integrity was one of the fundamental needs of a democratic government. The State or the Government had an important role to play in protecting and promoting judicial integrity. Just as it was the obligation of every judge to do all within the ambit of judicial power to ensure judicial integrity, so also it was the obligation of the State to protect and promote the conditions in which it could flourish.

He said judicial integrity was not possible without judicial independence and judicial independence was not possible if the State, in one way or another, used its vast executive powers to influence or control the Judiciary. This takes us also into the realm of constitutional law and the separation of powers.
Justice Weeramanthri said separation of powers among the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary was a concept developed in the past few centuries, but judicial independence and judicial integrity went right back to the very origins of civilisation.

“The Court is the last resort of the oppressed and of those who are unfairly treated. Such a place needs to be a model of integrity and a repository of the highest values that are re-enshrined in the concept of justice. Viewed in this light, judicial integrity is the very foundation of democracy. Any factor that disturbs this, however slightly, thus undermines democracy. Political influence either by way of rewards for judges who deliver opinions acceptable to those in power or by way of manifestations of disapproval such as transfers undermine democracy even further,” he warned.

Justice Weeramanthri’s lecture last week was not a direct reference to the impeachment motion, but his wisdom coming from decades of experience and his prophetic warning need to be deeply reflected and acted upon by those who are trying to undermine the democratic tradition where Parliament makes the laws while the Supreme Court decides whether these laws are in line with the spirit of the Constitution.  

  Comments - 4

  • P.L.J.B.Palipana Friday, 30 November 2012 21:30


    Reply : 3       0

    R.Sunthar Saturday, 1 December 2012 05:00

    Yes! Judiciary is the last resort. Please donot tamper with it.Please! Listen to respected saner counsel from an internationally acclaimed Judge and scholar.

    Reply : 1       8

    Nuwan Amartunge Saturday, 1 December 2012 11:14

    "View in this light Judicial Intergrity is very Foundation of Democracy" Weeramaithari said to to understand by CJ and Present Judges of Superem Courts to down words in court of Justice.

    Reply : 3       1

    Iqbal Sunday, 2 December 2012 07:29

    Yes, listen to this wise counsel of the most respected statesman of Sri Lanka who has no vested interest in his advice and do not lead the country to 'law of the jungle'.

    Reply : 0       0

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