6 December, 2021

Blog

A Passion For Justice That Transcends Time & Personalities

By Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka

Prof. ANI Ekanayaka

This article is about an extraordinary piece of history in academia far back in 2005. It concerns a group of academics from the University of Peradeniya who in a completely dispassionate gesture, and purely on a matter of principle rallied to the cause of an imprisoned politician whom most of them neither knew nor had much regard for. It is an interesting story that goes back to 2005 but is worth recounting owing to its considerable contemporary relevance.

The draconian sentencing of a basically good and decent man Ranjan Ramanayake to four long years of rigorous imprisonment on a mere charge of contempt of court, has rightly shocked and outraged many balanced and fair minded people in this country. However, it is natural that those who are most revolted by any hint of a miscarriage of justice should be precisely those who have the greatest reverence for the hallowed institution of the judiciary. Consequently it is not surprising that the anguish at the imposition of such cruel and excessive punishment should be felt most by those of an older generation like myself aged 77, who from our childhood were brought up to have the highest respect and esteem for the judiciary.

Even now looking back down the years in the evening of life names like Basnayake, Gratiaen, Weerasooriya, Sansoni, HNG Fernando, Victor Tennekoon, Weeramantri, Colin Thome, Mark Fernando, and Neville Samarakoon amongst other greats, linger in the memory as larger than life figures who adorned the bench with their fairness and fierce independence. It is such men who have set the highest standards by which those of my generation feel free to make respectful critical judgments about the administration of justice in this day and age. That I do so with profound respect for the institution of the judiciary and not presumptuously should be further evident from my antecedents. My grand-uncle the Late HJVI Ekanayaka who was called to the Bar in 1900 had distinguished himself as a magistrate during the infamous “Ambalangoda riots”, and promoted as a District Judge in 1906 it is said that his judgments earned him the sobriquet “Daniel of the Bench” !

Consequently as a matter of public interest it is relevant at this time to reproduce the courageous statement that was issued by 30 academic staff connected to the University of Peradeniya including several distinguished senior professors during a parallel incident 16 years ago when Mr. SB Dissanayake was similarly condemned to 2 years RI for contempt of court. I should think that most of the academics who signed that statement neither knew this MP nor had much regard for him. I myself who drafted that statement and was a leading signatory had little respect for him then and still less now.

But the principle was more important than the personality. That justice should be done mattered more than to whom it might apply. It was in that spirit of unselfish idealism that 30 academic staff had the temerity to stick their necks out in 2005 and make such a public statement on behalf of a relative stranger. That statement is worth reproducing here not only as a tribute to a bold gesture in the highest traditions of commitment to justice in academia, but more important because the sentiments therein, the argument and the logic are perfectly applicable to any critical analysis of the condemnation of Ranjan Ramanayake 16 years later. I have before me the original signatures of the 30 academics who signed the statement though obviously one is not at liberty to attach them here since they were obtained over an issue that is now history, albeit history that has ironically repeated itself with greater cruelty in our own day!

One preliminary point of interest. As I painstakingly struggled over the draft statement on my computer all those years ago, I did so with trepidation wondering whether publicly criticizing a judgment might get me and other academic signatories into trouble. In seeking expert legal assurance that we were not doing anything improper I recall contacting a distinguished Professor of Law (an influential member of the present government), who generously agreed to peruse the draft. He may have been pleasantly surprised that there were selfless academics who on a matter of principle were prepared to take a stand in support of a controversial politician whom most of them had not even met – for I have pleasant memories of this legal luminary coming all the way to my home in the campus to confirm that the draft was okay.

In the event a dedicated academic colleague (who was later to become Vice Chancellor) did the hard leg work of going round the campus collecting signatures, following which I personally posted the statement under registered cover to several national newspapers. That evening I recall handing the final draft as dispatched to the distinguished Law Professor at a Hotel in Kandy. It was the start of a cordial association, which alas ended abruptly on my side after his political cross over in 2005! Curiously only one newspaper published the outstanding statement by the 30 academics and even so omitting the names of the signatories. The rest is history.

The statement from 2005 is reproduced here sans names, and anyone can see that the contents have direct application to the Ramanayake case. Sadly, the cold indifference of the original victim and the Law Professor who rallied to his cause in 2005, towards Ramanayake’s far worse predicament in 2020, is testimony to the ultimate selfishness ingratitude and heartless insensitivity of the fallen human species.

The ­bold statement by 30 University academics in 2005 is reproduced herewith. Its application to contemporary events is obvious:

“As academics connected with the University of Peradeniya we consider it a public duty to express our indignation and moral outrage at the draconian sentence of … years rigorous imprisonment recently imposed on ….., on a mere charge of contempt of court. While we sympathise with ……. who in our view is the victim of a grievous injustice at the hands of the very institution whose sacred prerogative it is to dispense justice, our underlying concern is more about principles than about personalities.

Many of the signatories to this protest do not know …… personally and have never met him. Moreover how people might esteem him as an individual, whether he is admired or disliked is of no interest to us. Neither are his political views or public reputation of any concern to us here. It is sufficient that a fellow citizen languishes in jail, having received a vicious and unrealistic sentence that might have been (and might yet be) the unhappy fate of any free citizen of this country including any one of us.

We live in an era of unprecedented public doubt and anxiety about the credibility, integrity, and political independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka. In such a climate not only is it both natural and cathartic for there to be rising public criticism of the judiciary, but it is to be expected that some might have the temerity to do so in a blunt pugnacious style native to a volatile temperament. To punish such individuals as one might someone who is guilty of some vile and violent criminal misdemeanor, represents an eccentric and hypersensitive interpretation of the concept of contempt of court, a contradiction of natural justice, a violation of the spirit of democracy, and the gratuitous erosion of the right to free speech.

The judgment of the divisional bench which passed this sentence runs contrary to modern enlightened and liberal judicial attitudes that underlie very great restraint and tolerance in the interpretation and application of offences involving ‘contempt of court’ in many countries in this day and age. They include the celebrated Granada case in England where leading politicians and newspaper editors who denounced Lord Denning as “an ass” over a controversial judgment, received no punishment whatsoever, and other cases where the presumed insult to the judiciary was far more telling than that which committed …… to do hard labour in jail for … years.

The enlightened principles underlying such tolerance were well stated in the Manesar Declaration of December 2004 in Haryana India to which Sri Lanka had subscribed, according to which “ judges should exercise extreme caution in the grant of restraint orders in contempt cases where this would have a chilling effect on the right to freedom of expression”.

By contrast the ferocious penal retribution to which the divisional bench has resorted in the Sri Lankan case is in our view a gross travesty of justice which brings an already beleaguered judiciary into even greater disrepute. Accordingly we firmly endorse the eight points with which a distinguished law Professor has lucidly summarised the shortcomings of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the …… case from a legal perspective, namely that it is :

  • Misconceived in terms of the application of legal principle suitable for a modern  democratic society
  • Indicative of a profound distortion of policy perspectives and priorities
  • Inconsistent with trends reflected in contemporary legislation
  • In direct conflict with major currents of judicial authority throughout the democratic world
  • Out of line with modern literature on the subject
  • Directly contradictory to intuitive perceptions of justice and equity
  • Incompatible with core values which underpin the administration of criminal justice
  • Deeply flawed in respect of disproportionality of the sentence imposed, even on the (erroneous) assumption that liability has been established

However in the final analysis our intention is not to take a legal perspective so much as that of University teachers from a wide range of academic disciplines whose experience of campus life interacting with successive generations of exuberant young people over the years has helped to shape their sense of what is reasonable, proportionate, and humane in responding to personal attack and public criticism, however harsh and unpalatable this might be at times.

Accordingly we wish to assert that the imprisonment of …… has offended our intrinsic sense of humanity, natural justice, and intellectual authenticity, and constitutes a tragic violation of democratic values and human rights in the country. Sadly, recent disturbing trends in several other spheres of governance and law enforcement lead us to view this particular outrage with even greater disquiet, as being part of a depressing downward spiral characterised by the callous disregard of individual freedom, the intimidation of democratic institutions, and the progressive descent into tyranny”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 7
    15

    Judges can’t be held responsible for wrong law.
    Job of the judge is to interpret the EXISTING law, not to be motivated by their personal opinion or moral scruples. Or what the law SHOULD be.
    They can’t go beyond the evidence presented in the courts, not what they hear through the grapevine .
    It is the responsibility of the entire legal fraternity to be continuously engaged in reforming archaic laws.
    We all feel that Ranjan Ramanayake should not have got more than 4 weeks of community service. We know he is an exceptionally good man. The only uncorrupt politician we know for sure.
    But IF our law is 4 years of rigorous imprisonment for insulting judiciary the judges are helpless.
    What is our legal eagles doing after this sad episode?

    Soma

    • 14
      2

      Dear S.
      There is a different view which could have been applied. The judge’s prerogative to determine under which circumstances to employ mercy towards the defendant does NOT CONTRADICT the responsibility and duty of the judge to impartiality. On the contrary, mercy lives harmoniously with and epitomizes the social values that every judge should represent. The Law says “Not more” than 4 years.

      • 2
        3

        Myview

        The lady holding the scales is blindfolded.

        Soma

        • 7
          0

          That Lady symbolizes FAIR and equal administration of the law, without corruption, favour, greed, or prejudice. It does not mean BLINDLY following some man-made set of rules. Stress is on FAIR & EQUAL. Is it fair for an interested party to dispense justice when a brother judge is involved.

          • 0
            6

            Myview
            Case by case sympathy does more harm than goods.
            How many judges must have condemned the murderers for capital punishment while believing that capital punishment must be abolished. ?
            ” Is it fair for an interested party to dispense justice when a brother judge is involved.”
            Those who judge judges themselves are judges by definition.

            Soma

            • 8
              0

              Dear S.
              ….…Case by case sympathy does more harm than goods….
              Sympathy correctly exercised is preferred to extreme punishment.
              ……Those who judge …….. are judges by definition…
              What relevance to conflict of interest ?
              Also, a judge by definition, must rise above personal prejudices and beliefs, to be a good judge, or recuse him/her self from the Bench, whether it is capital or simple punishment at issue.

        • 3
          0

          “blindfolded” not to taker sides, not to be blind to reason.

    • 7
      0

      Soma,
      There is a law against homosexuality.
      There is a law against women purchasing alcohol. There is a against adultery.
      Why aren’t those enforced with equal vigour?

      • 0
        2

        Old codger
        Which laws must be enforced vigorously is not clarified in law.

        Soma

      • 3
        1

        OC,
        .
        we have enough laws, if judges and lawyers would change their blood through fresh transfusions.
        :
        So long sinhala genetics would contain in that blood, nothing would work papably.
        .
        Remember how it ended up for Lenin Rathnayaka case.

        This is just one single injustice of 1000000000000000000000000 of similar cases.
        :
        Alone current men incl. Rajapkshe family members would not have their HAPANKAM as free men, if our judges would have done the job….. they should not listen to anyone, but to implement the law as they promised by their approbation.
        :

    • 4
      0

      soman

      I am sorry to barge in between you and CT readers.

      Here is something that you must avoid:

      Please do not listen to the following discussion on Brain and its functions:
      https://www.closertotruth.com/series/how-do-brains-function?gclid=CjwKCAjw8KmLBhB8EiwAQbqNoLLuT_BCp6Pl1eFas5Mx0kMePqXOytcqIktBD-bDgkmDy78JKCABahoCNpIQAvD_BwE

      Warning
      Nationalists, Patriots, Smart patriots, Religious fanatics, Racists, Bigots, Eagle Blind Eye, ………………… Prince of Darkness Sarath Weerasekera, all those members of Saffron Brigades, Politicians, Weerawansa, Gota, Udhaya, Ranavirus, …………………. should avoid this website altogether at all costs.

      It will reduce your stupidity and harm you.

    • 3
      0

      soman

      If Hindia and China chose to fight a nuclear war in Sri Lanka without any prior warnings what should the innocent civilians do to protect themselves?

      Could you have a word with Shavendra and Kamala Gunaratne find out if there is a evacuation Procedures that we all must follow?

      Have got a spare nuclear bunker near your house?

  • 16
    0

    Prof. ANI, It was not contempt of court that bothered leaders. Ranjan Ramanayake got a photograph of the house and property in California published here for SL viewing and he is paying for it in prison.

    • 0
      0

      dtg
      Perhaps so.
      But it is hard to determine which straw broke the camel’s back.

  • 27
    2

    The writer is so right. Ranjan was jailed for 4 years not because his crime of insulting the judiciary was so serious ( in a country where billons of public wealth is robbed but nobody goes to jail) but because he dared to speak out publically about our corrupt and rotten politics and aimed at one family mostly.

    All else is hogwash !

    Asia’s New Miracle is taking shape. My foot !

  • 20
    1

    Ranjan’s arrest and prison sentence clearly show the standard of the Judiciary in Sri Lanka. There is no room for a whistleblower in this country. Every single case including murders, bribery, assault, etc is being thrown out of the courts or withdrawn by the AG. Does this mean that our Police and AG Department is so inefficient they cannot properly investigate and file action? Or does this mean that the AG Dept and the Judges are in the pockets of the Ruling Family and MPs”. Why are the people of this country tolerating such nonsense? The most popular and common decisions in all cases have been “withdrawn by AG” or “nidos kota nidahas”.

    • 3
      0

      Buddhist1
      “Does this mean that our Police and AG Department is so inefficient they cannot properly investigate and file action?”
      .
      YES.
      They are the corrupt ones, not the judges.
      That is where Ranjan Ramanayake was confused.
      As I said earlier judges are merely logic processors, outcome depends on input.

      Soma

      • 5
        0

        soman

        “They are the corrupt ones, not the judges.”

        Judges may not be corrupt but they don’t seem to possess “B***s”.
        It is because of their concern about their post retirement job prospects or present threat to their existence.

        If the people are honest and not bent you have a right to expect them being honest.
        You are bent, dishonest, …… greedy, therefore don’t tell us judges,ministers, functionaries, religious priests, members of armed forces, …………… are not dishonest or not bent because they are also like you come from the same dishonest racist society.

        I know you too are not exception.

        • 3
          1

          NV
          Did your Thalaivar accept a bribe from Mahinda for blocking elections?

          Soma

          • 6
            1

            soman

            “Did your Thalaivar accept a bribe from Mahinda for blocking elections?”

            Don’t be stupid.
            Your Thalaivar bought services from your brethren.
            It was purely business deal.
            Premadasa, Delhi, the West,…. all hired him for special services that he was known to provide.

            Don’t forget without your brother’s services Gota and Mahinda would not have won two elections and 30 years war. You better be grateful to VP.
            Gota too won elections simply because VP won the war for him.
            Without VP there is no Gota, no Mahinda, no Namla baby, No Basisl, ….

            What special skills, knowledge or wisdom, ….. does Gota posses in order to win elections apart from his ability to killing in innocent people in thousands, not just Tamils, also Sinhala yout?

            Please revisit the past, then think before you start typing.

          • 3
            1

            Soma, You must be thinking that you ask the right questions and make brilliant arguments. Not necessarily.
            What is a bribe? Who is considered a bribe-taker?
            Did the Thalaivar personally benefit by his action.
            You know the answers as well as I do. (So, stop confusing others.)

            • 2
              0

              Nathan

              “What is a bribe? Who is considered a bribe-taker?
              Did the Thalaivar personally benefit by his action.”

              I am sorry to disappoint you.
              Soman’s brethren VP was a psychopath.
              He exhibited all the following signs:

              socially irresponsible behavior
              disregarding or violating the rights of others
              inability to distinguish between right and wrong
              difficulty with showing remorse or empathy
              tendency to lie often
              manipulating and hurting others
              recurring problems with the law
              general disregard towards safety and responsibility

              Though he was not personally interested in accumulating wealth he knew every cents/penny/…… of cash and valuables in LTTE’s/People’s possession belonged to him.

              Poor VP never thought/expected his agents/brokers would be enjoying LTTE’s investments.

              Well part of LTTE wealth has been shared by the members of clan and cronies.

            • 0
              2

              Nathan
              “Soma, You must be thinking that you ask the right questions and make brilliant arguments.”
              They appear so to dull heads , so they comment on the commenter than responding to the comment.

              Soma

        • 0
          6

          NV
          “You are bent, dishonest, …… greedy,”
          Sorry to disapoint you, we don’t employ shit bucket carriers any more.
          Take a bath after day’s duty. -stench is unbearable.

          Soma

          • 6
            0

            soman

            “Sorry to disapoint you, we don’t employ shit bucket carriers any more.”

            Those millions of citizens of medieval middle-east kingdoms do employ you lot.
            Whats wrong with that?

            You got to be thankful to them because without their sacrifice you do not have a life style or in fact life. Further unlike you lot they work hard and earn a living whereas you lot steal, cheat, kill, … and boast your Sinhala/Buddhist culture …..

            By the how about Garlic theft not just one or two cloves but containers load.
            Carry on looting.

      • 6
        0

        Soma, thank you for your comment. If the Judges are not corrupt how would you see all the corrupt and murderous guys being let loose with the verdict “nidos kota nidahas”? Further, why do the Judges keep postponing the cases of corrupt politicians including Basil’s and other MPs’ cases with long delays? Judges are the most corrupt as they are the guardians of the law and we see it in our daily life in SL.

        • 5
          0

          One other point I missed earlier, if the Judges are not corrupt how can they give such a long sentence to Ranjan which is an illegal term as per the act under which he was charged?

        • 0
          2

          Buddhist1
          You came to the point.
          Case is presented before the courts in such a way that it cannot be proved. Manipulation is done by police and CID. Order from top comes to those involved in preparing the litigation, including AG.
          By and large judges are not corrupt, occasional bad egg is not significant. They are helpless. They pass the judgement on what is presented before the courts- evidenceand arguments, not based on what we all hear through the grapevine.

          Soma

          • 3
            0

            Dear S.
            ….By and large judges are not corrupt, occasional bad egg is not significant. They are helpless. They pass the judgement on what is presented before the courts….
            Helpless my foot. Here is “an occasional bad egg” for you.
            ….. https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/dangers-of-persecution-against-opposition-figures-loom-key-legal-fraternity-personnel-involved/ ……
            The Special Presidential Commission headed by Supreme Court Justice Priyantha Jayawardena is expected to begin sittings soon.
            Justice Priyantha Jayawardena himself is close to the Rajapaksa family, having been the legal advisor to Basil Rajapaksa before he was appointed to the Supreme Court, raising many eyebrows in the legal fraternity.
            According to Hulftsdorp wags, he was on his “best behaviour” during the Yahapalanaya Government but is now back to his old self. Jayawardena is known to be keen to succeed Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya.
            There you have it – take up matters with CT now.

          • 2
            0

            Soma, if Judges are not corrupt tell me how can the cases filed by the present Chief Justice when he was AG be withdrawn by the present AG and above all, in some of those cases the verdict has been “nidos kota nidahas”?

      • 6
        0

        …They are the corrupt ones, not the judges….
        Indeed very surprised when examples abound from Eva to Abeyratne to Sarath to Mohan. Perhaps you have not read Victor Ivans book :
        ISBN : 9558942006 . Summary : On rape charges faced by Lenin Ratnayake, judicial magistrate and corruption charges faced by Sarath Nanda Silva, chief justice from Sri Lanka and ensuing investigation and press coverage.
        I have seen the film based on this book as well.
        ……judges are merely logic processors…..
        Judgement should be by a form of peer review, with evaluation of facts and feelings and nuances. Otherwise judicature and courthouses can be replaced by a computer with AI and fuzzy logic.

    • 4
      0

      Buddhist1: There is a “WRIT” case filed in courts wherein the “Respondents” are (1) Wasantha Karannagoda (2) AG. This is against the “Withdrawal” of charges against Wasantha Karannagod, in the case of “Disappearance” of the 11 students. Both are ordered to “Appear” in courts at the next hearing. I emphasize the word “Appear” because in the case against him as the “14th Accused”, this man never appeared in courts whenever that case was called. Ironically, the “Courts” too ignored it.

      Let us see whether this “No one can touch me” Wasantha Karannagoda would “Appear” in courts. I am glad that there was someone who had the COURAGE to file this “Writ” application against the AG – “Public Prosecutor turned a “Lap Dog” and this “God Mighty” Wasantha.

  • 20
    1

    The only achievement of this government is to release all the Criminal charges against Rajapaksa family, releasing the murderers during their regime and charging their opponents or those who brought the facts about corrupted politicians within their regime. They are selling the country to make money every day and make people to fall in poverty.

  • 18
    1

    Ranjan Ramanayake was held to be in Contempt of Court.
    But a good many Citizens of this country have Contempt FOR COURT, for the many judgements that they are handing down to the Rajapakses and their catchers.
    Just today the High Court discharged Basil Rajapakse and his catcher on charges of FRAUD in the Devineguma misappropriation of funds.

    As for Prof: G.L.Pieris, though you have not named him in your essay, as a matter of decency [ After all you belong to that generation of Academics who are by and large extinct ] he is a clear example of a mountain stream ending in mud……………………

  • 20
    0

    What are views of “Academics” when Justice already done is “Reversed” by the Highest Executive – the President of the country? For example (1) Pardoning of Mary Juliet Monica Fernando- the wife of a former Minister of Parliament who was sentenced to death for double murder in 2005. She was pardoned by former President Mahinda Rajapakse. (2) In May 2019, former President Maithripala Sirisena pardoned the Secretary of BSS Rev. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara convicted to serve 6 years in prison for “Contempt” of court even though his appeals to the Appeal Court and SC were rejected. (3) In Nov. 2019 the former President Sirisena pardoned D.S.J.Anthony Jayamaha sentenced him to death in the Royal Park Murder case. Here too SC confirmed the sentence. (4) The present President Gotabaya Rajapakse pardoned Lance Corporal Sunil Ratnayake who was sentenced to death in the case of the murder of 8 persons in Mirusivil by Colombo High Court. A Five Member Judges Bench of SC confirmed the sentence. (5) the latest, the pardoning of Duminda Silva, again sentenced to death by the courts and confirmed by a Bench of Judges in the SC. The other “THREE” sentenced along with him are still serving the sentence. This President, “GR” went a step ahead of the other two former Presidents and appointed this “Pardoned” murderer as the Chairman of the Housing Authority.

    • 12
      0

      Add to that the many cases where the AG suddenly had second thoughts about so many cases recently dismissed ” nidoskota nidhahas” of Vasantha K and yesterday of Basil. No reasons given by AG but upto now taxpayers money expended.

    • 3
      0

      “Academics” are also divided depending on the Leader who are they are associated. For example, Prof. GL Peries, Prof. Vitharane, Prof. Laksiri Fernando are on the view that the murder convicts you mentioned by Supreme Court should be freed because they think that SupremeExecutive power is more powerful judge than the Supreme Court Judges.

  • 8
    1

    Lanka is a tragicomedy ……… the irony is lost on the populace ……..

  • 6
    1

    I continue….The last of my previous few sentences have not come in my earlier comment. Here it is;

    Shouldn’t the “Academics” do a “Research” and “Report” of the above “Pardoning” actions by the Highest Executive and what ill-effects such decisions bear on the discharge of Judicial Functions by the Courts?

    In addition, there is the latest “TREND” added to the functioning of the Judicial System and that is the “WITHDRAWAL” of charges leveled at especially the ‘High Ranking” politicos and public officials. These cases have been filed in courts after “Investigations” and thorough “Study” by the AG. If the very “Public Prosecutor” (AG) of the people come and “Withdraws” the cases against the “Accused” he himself has named, what is happening to our “Legal System”? Can the people have “TRUST” in such a system and must the people allow it to continue? On the other hand, that “Withdrawal” by itself constitutes a charge against the “AG” – the Peoples’ Prosecutor.

    With this “TREND”, I am of opinion that our President has got the “AG” he looked for. The President can now continued to say “Api Thamai Hondatama Keruwe” ( We did it best).

  • 8
    1

    At the other extreme, the Attorney-General has once again refused to file charges against Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, the 14th suspect who was indicted in connection with the kidnap for ransom and subsequent murder of 11 Tamil youth. The law is an ass everywhere but in Sri Lanka the ass is corrupt as well!

  • 13
    0

    As a matter of principle, brother judges sitting in judgement for contempt of court where another judge. or judges have been the subject of the charge, is a negation of the principle of natural justice due to a matter of conflict of interest. Charges should first be referred to an independent panel of a former AG and the current AG and the President of the Bar Association as well as any two senior judges to recommend any action to the SC, in the first instance.
    Otherwise, cases like SB and RR will always be controversial.
    It is forever to the shame of SL, that scum like the Law Professor mentioned is still able to be in the Cabinet of Ministers.
    And add to that – not a whisper from that “Viyathmaga” on the RR case mentioned, while their mission as published was :
    …”To mobilize the nascent potential of the professionals, academics and entrepreneurs to effectively influence the MORAL and material development of Sri Lanka IN PAR with the other developed countries where all citizens live in an environment of EQUITY and FAIRPLAY, with equal opportunities in the advancement of these ideals”……
    What balderdash.

  • 5
    1

    Interceding on a matter of principle, as the author and other academics have done in the past for a man not known is praiseworthy. He also mentions about the recent sentence of Ranjan. My question is very fundamental. Is there any law that specifically defines as to what constitutes contempt of court? In the past, people who sat cross-legged in court was also charged for contempt and punished. It is the opinion of many whom I have interacted that contempt should not be a refuge for judges to do wrong and get away. They say that justice must not only be done but seem to be done. Many have lost confidence in the system because it is not seemed to be done. It is the considered opinion of many that a shift towards solutions outside the democratic framework is much preferred because of this trend. This too is a sign of a failed state.

    • 5
      0

      Dear GS.
      …”In the past, people who sat cross-legged in court was also charged for contempt and punished”….
      That was in the days when the Court House was a hallowed place where silence was the norm, and judges were revered as “Nadukara Hamuduruwo” for their near godly quality of administering equal justice as they should – not by fear ( of govt or loss of promotion and benefits) or favour (to get favours from the establishment).
      One example was Nagananda filing a case against judicial officers for accepting ‘duty free’ car permits which entails obligations in return to tow the line. And what happened – NK was considered a nuisance and lost his ‘lawyer’ privilege.
      So over time, we see the moral and cultural decline, where finally “power and money” are the final arbiters – not the judges or the AG, who are but mere pawns.

      • 2
        0

        Dear MyView,
        There is no specific law on contempt that was changed with times to punish those seated cross-legged then and now. Sitting cross-legged does not disturb the court proceedings. The demeanor of a person sitting cross-legged may not be considered disrespectful by most of the judges today but if a chap irks the judge for matters nothing to do with the proceedings he can be hauled for contempt for sitting cross-legged or even not combing the hair properly “for gross disrespect to court”. Nadukara Hamudurwo of the past vanished into thin air when they no longer became the judges of Her Ceylonese Majesty.

        • 3
          0

          Yes, Nadukara Hamudurwo of the past vanished into thin air when they no longer became the judges of Her Ceylonese Majesty.
          Politicisation set in then. Initially it was Jaya Pathirana courtesy Felix R (SLFP MP from 1961-64) to the Supreme Court in 1972.
          https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/judicial-corruption/

  • 3
    0

    Interesting discussion about why the law is not working for the people of the land. My take on the matter is: It is not mere sycophancy or being loyal to those who gave these people employment, but coercion. It is highly likely that a very influential personality gets on the phone and ORDERS these officials to dismiss cases or suppress incriminating evidence etc. Fear is a great motivator, combined with freebies and elevated lifestyle luxuries. It is also simple. Let the conscience be, and enjoy life, provide for their families and keep the employers happy. In other words, go with the tide and make hay while the sun shines for them.

    • 1
      3

      Dr.LP
      “It is highly likely that a very influential personality gets on the phone and ORDERS these officials to dismiss cases or suppress incriminating evidence etc.”
      That is precisely what happens.
      I am defending here the judges.
      Case is presented before the courts in such a way that it cannot be proved. Manipulation is done by police and CID. Order from top comes to those involved in preparing the litigation, including AG.
      By and large judges are not corrupt, occasional bad egg is not significant. They are helpless. They pass the judgement on what is presented before the courts- evidence and arguments, not based on what we all hear through the grapevine. They can’t ride over evidence and arguments PRESENTED BEFORE THEM.

      Soma

      • 4
        0

        Dear S,
        …….They can’t ride over evidence and arguments PRESENTED BEFORE THEM………
        I wonder why there is review and appeals against judgements by an immediate superior court, all the way to Appeal and Supreme Court, if there are such excellent judgements from courts of first instance.
        Famous words by higher court – in order to safeguard their stature, when reversing judgement : “The judge has misdirected himself”.

  • 2
    0

    “It was the start of a cordial association, which alas ended abruptly on my side after his political cross over in 2005! “
    If it is switching loyalties that offended Prof. ANIE, did it ever occur to him that Prof. GLP stabbed Chandrika Kumaratunge in the back in 2001 to bring down the government.
    *
    Was it the direction of the cross-over that really mattered?

  • 6
    0

    Convicted murders have been pardoned after a couple of years, Gnanasara, who intimidated a witness with death threats, openly in court in the presence of the judge (I don’t think even the mafia was so audacious) was released after serving a couple of months in jail, yet, a parliamentarian who spoke his mind has been sentenced for 4 years with no possibility of early release. Then there is a human rights lawyer banged up for months indefinitely without any charges, as well as, a decorated police officer who was also incarcerated for months on trumped up charges. Certainly, a country like no other.

    So, Professor, the academics had sympathy towards a useless politician but why not now? Is it because of a military regime?

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.