By Colombo Telegraph –
Colombo Telegraph received a letter from a respectable senior lawyer from Sri Lanka asking your views on the conduct of the Supreme Court re the oaths taking of Namal Rajapakse. The Colombo Telegraph is withholding the lawyers’ name for security reasons. According to the lawyer, some of the disturbing facts are as follows:
1. This is the most unusual oaths taking in the history. All other sessions were manipulated to have just ten apprentices including Namal on the last day’s session. These ten could have been easily distributed over the last nine sessions over three days from 12th to 14th. In the alternative, the crowd of nearly 70 a session could have been reduced by spreading over this session too. Also what about the number of passes per apprentice? Wonder whether he handed over the file to the registry in the same manner as the other apprentices did by standing in line and waiting for his turn?
2. Normally, the oaths taking sessions start at 9.30 a.m. unless it is a special oath, in which case such special oaths are taken in a normal court (not in the ceremonial court).
3. Security arrangements for the President is understandable but not for the others.The President, his wife and Namal had came from the judges’ entrance (lift) to the 5th floor and then through the judges library to the ceremonial Court. They had come through the back door with hundreds of Presidential security men. One side of the Court Complex was closed for lawyers’ parking and in the morning the District Court parking slot was also closed. DC parking restriction was removed after a few lawyers protested. The side entrance of the SC was open for their family. Ministers, MPs and their relations and lawyers have not seen the side entrance being opened.
4. The side parking area was cordoned off by the Presidential Security Division and converted into a special drop off area for politicians. The parking area of the lawyers was restricted severely. Just before the VVIPs arrived, last minute grass cutting and shaping up of the garden took place in the parking area. There is also evidence of the floors being polished and other places painted in a hurry two days earlier.
5. The President and the family entered the court through the judge’s library. All areas including the judges’ library were full of Presidential Security officers.
6. The judges come for normal oaths taking at the scheduled time. Today it was fixed for 10.00 a.m. However the Presidential party had got delayed and hence judges (presided over the by the Chief Justice) had also delayed to come to the Court. Interestingly, the President had come into the Court after the judges arrived and were seated. When he arrived almost the entire set of lawyers including PCs as well as senior officers of the AG’s Dept. had stood up (some reluctantly, and others willingly). Could the President’s delayed arrival have been a mere accident or was it by design? A cynic asked whether the judges too got up from their seats. Apparently not. Both AG and SG had been in attendance.
7. The Court was full of visitors. Normally for any oaths, each new lawyer gets about 5 to7 invitations (passes) to enter the premises. In this case, there were well over 100 invitees. Most of the ruling party lawyer ministers and MPs, Corporation Chairmen, Local Authority members and well-known PC supporter lawyers were present. Prior to the judges’ arrival, a large number of TV crews were present to cover the event. I wonder whether all apprentices will be able to cover their events with TV and video crews as in a wedding.
8. The procedure is unprecedented and the Court delayed the procedure awaiting an auspicious time for Namal to take oaths. A source from within had confirmed that there was an auspicious time and that the Registrar of the Court was to give the signal to the lady official reading out the names when the auspicious moment arrived. Unfortunately, it appears that the registrar or the lady had messed up and read the name a little before the auspicious time. Along the grapevine it is said that the registrar had called Namal later and apologized for the mistake. In the future, will all apprentices be given an opportunity to indicate the preferred auspicious times, and will the Court take judicial notice of the “rahu kalaya” on days when oaths are administered? It is unthinkable that the registrar would have attended to the auspicious time by himself, without instructions from higher authorities?
9. Who were the other nine apprentices who took oaths? At least some of them are said to be AALs from the SLFP Students Union. How were they picked? Were their names in the order when the files were handed over.
10. An oaths ceremony is not a ceremonial sitting but certain PCs (such as Mrs. Tilekeratne ASG) were seen dressed in the winged collars- the dress worn by PCs at ceremonial sittings.
11. What happened after the oaths? It seems that President, his wife and Namal went behind the ceremonial Court and posed for photographs with the judges. Let’s hope in the future their Lordships will oblige all new entrants to the profession and pose for a photo session with them and their parents where the judges pose for photographs after taking oaths. Were others also hosted by their Lordships?
12. Thereafter, Namal and friends had gone to the DC canteen where free food was distributed around. Mrs Pathirana of the Law Library was told by Chandana Liyanapatabendi (another SLFP lawyer and member of Minin Lanka) to go to Namal and to give him the membership form to obtain Life Membership.
13. What do we do?