- BASL writes to President requesting to convey to public the basis on which Silva was released
- Silva leaves from rear entrance of prison to avoid media
- Justice Ministry sources say they were unaware
- Pardon heavily condemned on social media
- Any pardon to be granted under Article 34 of the Constitution should be made after a careful analysis of the necessity to grant such a pardon as stipulated in the proviso to Article 34 (1) of the Constitution
By JAMILA HUSAIN
Former Parliamentarian Duminda Silva walked out a free man last morning after he received a special presidential pardon by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after he was sentenced to life in prison in 2016 over the murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra.
Silva was among those who received a pardon along with 16 LTTE detainees, on the occasion of Poson Poya Day, after he was convicted by the Colombo High Court in 2016. Silva silently left the Welikada Prison using the rear entrance to avoid the large media entourage waiting for him in the front of the prison. He was seen getting into his Jeep and leaving the area.
Bharatha Premachandra’s widow, Sumana Premachandra, upon hearing the news of Silva’s release condemned the government’s decision to release him, in a statement she released on her Facebook page.
“The killer has been set free. The sun will not shine on a country that does not respect justice,” she said in a post which was widely shared on all social media platforms.
Ms.Sumana further said that Sri Lanka had transformed into a country that did not respect the Judiciary and by disrespecting the verdicts of the High Court and Supreme Court judges and said this injustice had taken place on the most auspicious day of ‘Poson Poya’.
Sources from the Justice Ministry, when contacted, said they were unaware of any details of Silva’s release as this had been under the directive of President Rajapaksa.
Meanwhile the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, in a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said it was a right of the public to know whether the said pardon had been granted in accordance with the report of the trial Judges, the opinion of the Attorney General and the recommendation of the Minister of Justice.
“Whilst His Excellency the President has the power and discretion to pardon, such discretion must always be exercised judiciously. Such power must not be exercised arbitrarily and selectively,” the BASL said in a statement.
“The BASL is mindful that in the past too there have been instances where selective pardons have been granted without any material to justify the basis on which the respective prisoners were selected for granting of such pardons, and the BASL has on those occasions strongly taken up the same position which the BASL is now taking up. Any pardon to be granted under Article 34 of the Constitution should be made after a careful analysis of the necessity to grant such a pardon as stipulated in the proviso to Article 34 (1) of the Constitution,” the BASL added.
In the aforesaid circumstances, the BASL said it had written to the President and requested the President to convey to the BASL and to the general public the basis on which Duminda Silva was selected for the purpose of granting a pardon under Article 34 (1) of the Constitution, the circumstances which were taken into consideration in the granting of such pardon, the reasons as to why the case of Duminda Silva stands out from the others who are currently sentenced, whether a report was called for by the President from the Trial Judges as required by the Proviso to Article 34 (1) prior to granting of the pardon to Duminda Silva and if so the contents of the report, whether the advice of the Attorney General was called for prior to granting of the pardon to Duminda Silva and if so the contents of such advice, whether the recommendation of the Minister of Justice was obtained prior to granting of the pardon to Duminda Silva and if so whether the Minister of Justice made such a recommendation.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka maintained that if any one or more considerations stated above, were not satisfied in the current case, the pardon granted to Duminda Silva would be unreasonable and arbitrary and will result in erosion to the Rule of Law and result in a loss of public confidence in respect of the administration of justice, the BASL said.