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‘Judiciousness of judiciary in peril’

4 December 2013 07:04 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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There is a very serious deterioration in the Judiciary today. The appointment process of Judges to the Superior Courts, the Court of Appeal, the process of appointing members of important commissions such as the Bribery Commission and the Human Rights are all in jeopardy with the repeal of the 17th amendment, and the lack of fair representation endorsed by both the government and the opposition.

The Constitutional Council must consist of representatives appointed by all recognised political parties.  However, it only consists of representatives appointed by the ruling party and the President posing a serious threat to democracy.

In the Supreme Court there are two vacancies that were created by the retirement of Justice P.A. Ratnayake and Justice Amaratunga.  These vacancies have existed for nearly six months and three months respectively.  Why has there been a delay in filling these vacancies?  There is serious delay in the administering of justice by the courts.  In such a backdrop, a legitimate question arises as to why there has been a delay in filling these vacancies.   Unless there is an ulterior motive we cannot see any justification for such and undue delay.

The Court of Appeal presided by Justice Sri Skandarajah referred to the Supreme Court for determination to examine the applicability of the judicial decisions on the Parliamentary Committees.  The judges of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal are under tremendous pressure to issue decisions to please the rulers.In the Supreme Court, determination was made by a bench presided by Justice Amaratunga.  Justice Amaratunga suffered a stroke a few months after the judgment was delivered.  Justice Sri Skandarajah conquering with two other judges quashed the Parliamentary Select Committee report.  Justice Sri Skandarajah who is now bed-ridden was denied his promotion to the Supreme Court on five occasions.  Finally he was prevented for nearly 5 or 6 months from being promoted.  There is no need to promote him anymore.



" Take the Bribery Commission.  One person makes the appointments to these bodies and then these appointees act on political dictates "



Decades of judicial experience and independent judgment have been destroyed.  Even the minor judiciary is under tremendous pressure.  Very soon even to hold a political rally, we may have to obtain permission from the government and the judiciary.  They have been coerced to trespass on fundamental rights.  If they do not comply they will have to face brutal consequences and sacrifice their entire professional career.

Take the Bribery Commission.  One person makes the appointments to these bodies and they act on the political dictates of such persons.  A number of complaints have been made against government politicians who have squandered millions and billions not in rupees but in dollars

These persons are roaming around scot-free.  Not a single one of those complaints have been inquired into.  Be assured that we will not only inquire into these crimes against the society but also inquire into the conduct of those who are tasked with the duty of inquiring into these crimes, and have evaded it in a dishonourable and dishonest manner.

In the recent past one of the honest customs officers who nabbed a racketeer was planted with a concocted fabricated charge of bribery.
There are allegations against very high people before the Commission for Corruption.

The courts are most unfavourable in matters when they are called upon to hold against the government because they are under immense pressure.  Soon this country will come to a far exceeding situation than that exists in Colombia where the Judges have to go home creeping through the windows after delivering judgments.  The rule of law is of little concern.  The Chief Justice himself was quoted in a public function to say that ‘one should not pay lip service to the rule of law’. The civil society is shocked and dismayed. Government harassment of their political opponents through the law enforcement authorities is rampant.  Police powers have been vested with the armed forces, very much in violation of Section 12 of the Public Securities Ordinance.  This is why there was shooting by the armed forces in Rathupaswala killing  three people, injuring many others and desecrating the place of worship.  The law that applies to government supporters is one and the law that applies to their political opponents is another.  It appears that not only the King, but his men and all of their henchmen can do no wrong.  It appears that the Presidential immunity applies to all the hoodlums.  The civil society is shell-shocked.

When a person who had no money in a bank account is prosecuted with the passport being impounded in a political witch-hunt, others who do not declare their assets at all are enjoying the ‘immunity’ that they do not have with impunity.  If the judiciary conducts itself in a partisan manner as they do, soon will come a day the public will have no more respect for the judiciary.  Today people have started talking about this serious erosion of the Judicial System.

Sri Lanka is now the proud chair in office of the Commonwealth.  We are happy as Sri Lankans.  There were two independent opinions that were sought by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Mr. Kamalesh Sharma.  These two reports are now in the public domain.  They were issued by the Former Chief Justice of South Africa and Sir Geoffrey Bowell Queens Counsel.  These reports go to the extent of stating that the 43rd Chief Justice was never removed from office and that she still remains in office.  Will the Chair of office of the Commonwealth, His Excellency the President take immediate steps to restore in office and remove the constraints that have been placed preventing the 43rd Chief Justice from discharging her functions as the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka?

I made these observations in good faith.  As chair of the Commonwealth we have set standards.  We have to be a model nation for others to follow.  We want to die in a democratic country.


(This is an extract from the speech made by UNP MP Karu Jayasruiya in Parliament)
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