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DELAYS IN LEGAL SYSTEM, RULES OF LAW AND GOOD GOVERNANCE

23 August 2017 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Hon William Gladstone said in the frequently used adage in the legal circle that “Justice Delayed is Justice denied” which is applicable to the justice system worldwide. [We inherited English legal principles of presumption of innocence and application of Rule of Law which means to act according to the existing legal framework, everyone should be treated equally before the law. Some of the main guiding principles of our legal system, the world has rated high despite isolated dark spots which are common worldwide in all jurisdictions].

  • AG’s Dept. is overloaded with work with less staff
  • Some murder cases are dragged for over 20 years!
  • politicos earn Rs. 3.1bn on illegal selling of vehicle permits

The criminal and civil procedure, evidence ordinance and most of the legislation in practice in Sri Lanka are imported from the British and applied with subsequent amendments which are alien archaic and complicated to us using a foreign language. In addition we are muddled with the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim personal laws and Roman Dutch Law on property matters. Citizen is suffering from the time the foreign legal system is introduced, in which one of the classic examples of miscarriage of justice is the story of “Silindu” in the story “Baddagama” by the historian Leonard Wolf about a case in deep down south “Walasmulla” in which the justice was meted with the foreign language at the cost of the innocent villagers life and freedom which is continuing in everyday in the maize of litigation every day.   

Some murder and rape cases have taken decades when a child rape victim gives evidence after 15 years and murder cases take sometimes 20 years when the witnesses are dead and the productions have gone missing

Laws delays are worldwide and common to any jurisdiction. Law Society Gazette in the UK complaints of a backlog of 63,000 appeals pending and Vinod’s case in India of the rape and murder of a 5-year-old child took 22 years with 36 witnesses with ample similar examples in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka there are land/partition cases that run to decades and generations. In Sri Lanka the hearing of a rape victim and the murder sometimes takes 15 to 20 years on average. In the history of Bribery cases only a few have been successful so far despite the enormous funds pumped and they are hardly heard in the media. Laws delays are frequent in western jurisdictions despite modern trends and sophisticated equipment with sufficient funds to the mechanism on delivery of justice. 

Best mechanism was introduced to Sri Lanka by the act No. 44 of Administration of Justice Act introduced by Felix Dias Bandaraneike who was unpopular among the legal profession for the ground breaking reforms to expedite the justice system that was thrown away by the legal profession headed by the eminent lawyer Dr. H. W. Jayawardna Q. C. brother and the advisor to then President JR Jayewardene continuing the system to benefit the privileged legal profession for exploitation of the litigant directly responsible for laws delays, with other parties concerned mentioned in this article. No short cuts as the solution. The Nation needs drastic legal reforms with honest and genuine legislators. Or perish together.   

BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION ENGULFED THE LEGAL SYSTEM AND OTHER BODIES LIKE CANCER

Bribery and corruption are cancerous rampant and all over as breath and air in the system more deep rooted in the administration of justice and the court system where anything is possible with bribe. Some citizens are litigants who had no faith in the legal system, took the law into their hands in resolving disputes. Criminal procedure and the system are still complicated with the dependence of peace officers, statutory bodies such as the departments offering technical support, AG’s Department is overloaded with work with lack of staff and facilities.

It is a known fact that some partition/land/criminal with appeal cases has taken generations despite steps taken to speedy completion. Some murder and rape cases have taken decades. When a child rape victim gives evidence after 15 years and murder cases drag for 20 years, the witnesses are dead and the productions had gone missing. These are not isolated cases as it is the order of the day in the day to day procedure which is in the public domain.

As a test Bribery Commission was rejuvenated by appointing  Dilrukshi Wickramasinghe - an energetic personality with lot of hopes and enthusiasm, and a Commission was appointed to inquire into corruption by the previous government with an honest and experienced secretary in Lacille de Silva. The fate of both officers are still fresh in memory of the citizen who always at the receiving end. This proves what bribery and corruption are to weak governance and inefficiency. 

The recent two cases are trivial on two asserts cases of Duminda Silva and Sarana Gunawardena subjected to the fine of Rs 2,000 with no other harm

The recent two cases are trivial on two asserts cases of Duminda Silva and Sarana Gunawardena subjected to the fine of Rs 2,000 with no other harm. Today we have the most corrupt Parliament Mafia working together having forgotten party politics to earn money collectively by illegally selling vehicle permits at enormous profits with the loss of 3.1 billion to the citizen and more to be exposed. Activist lawyer Nagananda Kodittuwakku has filed a case against 100 MPs in the Supreme Courts when Ravi Karunanayaka has resigned for a short while, on the Mahendran/Aloysius scam the citizen is conversant with and continuing.

Now the alleged wealth accumulated by the former President and the Waseem Thadueen murder involving the former’s wife is one of the main issues in the field of Bribery and Corruption. All well known to the public despite the VAT and Bond Scams the highest public robberies from the citizen in the decade which is still not resolved when the culprits are enjoying their accumulated wealth apparently in Dubai.   

WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR NOT BRINGING OFFENDERS TO JUSTICE WITHOUT DELAY?

Fingers are pointed at Minister of Justice, Attorney General, Legal Profession, Bribery Commissioner, Legal System, inefficiency of the establishments, lack of political will of the Minister to identify the Bribe takers and punish them outside special procedure by setting up special courts and procedures adopting new and special legislation and special procedure. A group of agitated members of the legislature have made the main accusation to the Minister and AG’s department they believe are inefficient and do not do enough to bring the suspected members of the last regime accused of bribery and corruptions by a group of legislatures of the ruling party. Minister’s response to the agitated colleagues is simple, logical, legal and convincing. He said to the party group and the public that, he is bound to adopt the due process, and to act legally and constitutionally based on the guidelines and articles of the supreme law the citizens are bound to.

Judicial power is exercised through courts Article 4-(c) created and established by law, and all persons are equal before law Article 12(1) and No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of political opinion 12(2) nor can subject to disability, restriction and every person is presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty. Article 13(5), and the mode of appointments of the judiciary is enshrined in the 1978 Constitution and the 19th Amendment adopted in hurry and haste which requires many changes is in the implementation process.   

Today we have the most corrupt Parliament Mafia working together having forgotten party politics to earn money by illegally selling vehicle permits at enormous profits with the loss of 3.1 billion to the citizen and more to be exposed

Chief Justice is the head of the judiciary and the AG is the advisor to the state expected to be independent and impartial towards the citizen depending on justice and fair play. President of the Bar Association is the leader of the “Unofficial Bar” who plays a pivotal role in the process of delivery of justice with the legal profession acting as officers of courts assisting the Judiciary and the citizen. The Ministries and departments supporting the process as necessary appendages of the delivery of justice is expected to be steady, just and impartial.

Delivery of justice is a combined operation/process of all the necessary parties led by the Chief Justice and the judiciary who has control over the management of the Law College, disciplinary actions of the lawyers and the judiciary giving directions to the other judges with the cooperation of the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice which indicates that the process is complicated and the role played by the Minister is merely complementary and facilitation providing resources and assistance with no powers on the main process. Therefore finding fault on the AG and the Minister is illogical.   

The writer could be reached on Sarath7@hotmail.co.uk 

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