6 July, 2022


A Heavy Price Will Have To Be Paid For Losing The Judiciary As A Separate Branch Of Governance

By Basil Fernando –

Basil Fernando

The late Mr. A.C. Soyza (Bunty), a well-known criminal lawyer and the president of the Bar Association, was retained by a group of young, radical leftists, who had been charged for their political work. During the consultations in prepartion for the trial, Mr. Soyza used to chat with these young radicals. One of these young persons told Mr. Soyza, “You lawyers are doing all this work only for money, no?” Then Mr. Soyza told these young people, “One day, when there are no lawyers, you will understand the value of lawyers.”

In some cultures, there is no deep understanding of the value of liberty and what it means to lose it.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn made a similar observation after great catastrophes had been faced in Russia, in the following words:

“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

Many Sri Lankans, with great shock, have now begun to realize that something that they never thought of is going to happen. One of the most valued things in the country, despite the tremendous limitations it had, was the independence of the judiciary. It is finally going to be lost. The judiciary as an independent branch of governance will cease to exist.

All kinds of ifs about how this could have been prevented are of little use now. Sri Lanka, which has witnessed some of the worst kinds of human rights violations, such as mass-scale forced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, rampant torture, illegal arrest and detention and unbelievable levels of corruption, extreme rise in crime and every form of abuse of power, will soon realize that what they have already suffered is nothing compared to what is to come.

It is only when the independence of the judiciary is lost that everyone, including those who are causing this loss, will begin to realize under what horrors they will have to live when there is no institution to protect the basic liberties.

Yes, as the late Mr. Bunty Soyza said, it is only when we lose these things that we will begin to realize what we have lost.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    We have to be thankful that some independence of the judiciary still exists, in spite of JRJ, RP,CBK and MR, taking into consideration their influence/interference on CJs, AGs, SGs, PCs and other Judiciary appointments.
    Can you expect more from improper Governments and irregular Governance?

  • 0

    Sombody by the name of Gomin Dayasri has written some gibberish in today’s Sunday Island.

    It is actually an incoherent rant sounding more like an essay you will write in school, but what drew this commentator’s attention is that his statement that ‘the lady in distress (that is the CJ) is no tramp. But you cannot live on sympathy alone’. He has taken the lady to task for putting out her defence in the public arena and regards it as an attempt by the lady to win public sympathy. Yet, he justifies as legitimate the wide spread publicity that was given to the charges against her.

    In his view when a high profile personality is officially charged, photographs are displayed in the media and paparazzi with cassettes and cameras follow the accused. I am amazed that a lawyer with the years of seniority that he boasts could make such comments when the person concerned is the head of the judiciary.

    The manner in which the government has gone about its business is bound to cause more damage to the judiciary, which is not what is the objective of the impeachment process. Of course, Gomin Dayasri does not see it that way. No wonder the legal profession is in such a pathetic state.

    • 0

      This Gomin Dayasiri is in the same category as Gunadasa Amarasekara, Elley Gunawansa, Wimal Weerawansa crowd. These are the buggers who ride on False Patriotism, pretending to be Sinhalese Buddhists and that this country belong to them only. These few buggers should be dispensed from society for the rest to live in harmony.

  • 0

    People were unaware of the role played of the judiciary in the functioning of democracy. Most probably this is because our judiciary had become subserviant to the political system. It is only now that people are becoming aware of the importance of having an independent judiciary.

    Incidents in neighbouring countries like India and Pakistan have highlighted the role of the judiciary in building a strong society and country free from corruption and tyranny. We too need a strong and independent judiciary to control the wave of crime and corruption in this country.

  • 0




    “One day, when there are NO MORE GOOD lawyers, you will understand the value of THOSE GOOD lawyers.”


  • 0

    In Sri Lanka hereafter no SC Judges, only PSC Judges… Carry on!!

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