By Colombo Telegraph
The scandal of Namal Rajapaksa, eldest son of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Member of Parliament, and heir apparent, receiving favoured treatment by the authorities at the Sri Lanka Law College at his attorneys-at-law final examinations grabbed media attention earlier this year. Thushara Jayarathna, another candidate at the exam, alleged in complaints made to the police, Law College and even the then Chief Justice, that Namal Rajapaksa had been accommodated separately in an air-conditioned room with internet enabled computer facilities to sit for his examinations.
In the present political climate of Sri Lanka, the courage of Jayarathna’s decision to go public does not need to be retold. He has not only faced physical harm and intimidation for his trouble, but also received no justice either from the Law College or from the Sri Lankan courts. The Supreme Court has thrown out his fundamental rights case on technical grounds, thereby exhausting all his local remedies. He is therefore intending to take his case to the Human Rights Committee in Geneva.
That there is no justice to be had from the Sri Lankan judicial system, especially in cases concerning the ruling family, is becoming alarmingly clear day by day. Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra’s family have clearly stated they have no confidence in the Sri Lankan system and would “go outside and ask for justice“. Shan Wickremasinghe has felt the need to inform foreign embassies about threats to his life.
Below we give Thushara Jayarathna’s account of what happened at the Law College third year final examinations in 2010, and subsequent events.
My name is Dassanayake Mudiyansalage Thushara Jayaratna. I am a final year student at Sri Lanka law College and my registration number is 17988.
On 3rd December 2010, I made an official complaint about irregularities in the Law College examination system. I also registered a complaint at the Keselwaththa police station. Following my complaint which garnered a lot of attention within the college, in the media and by the Asian Human Rights Commission, I was summoned before college authorities on 11th January 2011 and asked to explain the exact nature of the irregularities. I then listed three main complaints as follows:
1. The college allowed Mr. Namal Rajapakse to appear for his exam in an air conditioned room with internet facilities. This is in direct contravention of rule 60 of the college’s own exam code as well as article 12(1) of the constitution. Rule 60 of the exam code clearly states that candidates may not have any books or learning aids with them for the duration of the examination. It also does not allow mobile phones – even if they have been switched off. However Mr. Rajapakse was allowed an internet enabled computer on his table. I saw Mr. Rajapakse enter that hall and clearly stated as much at the time of registering my complaint.
2. The question paper on the third day was leaked. I witnessed two candidates discussing the question paper before the exam began.
3. The college registrar used the Law College official phone line to make a threat to my life on 6th December 2010. I was thus unable to appear for the Accounts paper as a result of these threats. The head of the institution then informed me that he would make a copy of my statement available to me. However I have not received a copy to date.
The honourable principal of the Law College then stated to both Lanka e news and the Sunday Leader that I had made the complaint against the institution because I was not fluent in English and went on to dismiss the complaints as mere hearsay. I immediately wrote a letter to the honourable chief justice on the 26th of January 2011, strongly condemning these statements. I am making arrangements to send you a copy of the letter as an attachment. In the letter I clearly stated that my complaints were not based on hearsay but on what I had personally seen and heard. I sent the letter by registered post.
With regards to the death threat I received, I would like draw your attention to a statement by the former Chief justice to BBC Sandeshaya, where he said that if any candidate was allowed to appear for the exam in an air conditioned room it would be a clear and serious violation of the institute’s own exam code and would indeed call the entire examination system into question. The hon. Principal made a statement to the media saying that Namal Rajapakse was given an AC room in which to sit for the exam since there was no space in the other examination halls. In my letter sent to the chief justice I pointed out that this claim was an absolute falsehood, since there was plenty of space to accommodate candidates in my own examination hall. The hon. principal then made a statement to the media that a decision concerning me had been made on the 17th. However after sending my letter to the chief justice, and in a response to BBC Sandeshaya, the hon. chief justice said that a decision in this regard had not been taken as yet and that the matter was still under investigation.
However after this you are aware that I was abducted, I was beaten up in my own home and made to forcibly sign documents. Today with absolutely no decision taken with regards to my complaints, Sri Lanka Law College has passed Mr. Namal Rajapakse, failed me and sought to end the matter there. The question that now arises however is the validity of rule 60 of the institute exam code going forward and whether it was not contravened. This would mean that future candidates of this examination would have the right to use the internet enabled computers while writing their papers, or given the limited number of computers within the institution, be allowed to bring portable internet devices. I filed fundamental right application assistant from local human right groups and Attorney At Law Lakshan J.S. Dias. 10/25/2011Deputy Solicitor General Shavendra Fernando and Nerinpulle objected to the taking up the case based on the time bar an the jurisdiction of the case. D.S. Wijesinghe PC appeared for Namala Rajapakse made the same objection and case was dismissed after they heard my submission on the above objections, I would request your help in presenting my case before the international human rights court in Geneva. I believe that what took place in the Law College examination is not only a sign of the intuition compromising its own examination code, but also sets a dangerous precedent. If this is allowed to continue, I believe that we may soon be faced with a situation where the children of prominent politicians will be allowed to appear for even the Law College entrance examination in unfair conditions