By Upatissa Pethiyagoda –
Rarely has a verdict of any Court, been so universally hailed, as the recent one of a full bench of the Supreme Court. Never has such verdict, won such universal respect and plaudits. Apart from its cathartic value at a time when all-pervading gloom engulfs the nation. It should not be viewed only as a mere rap of the knuckles of fraud and incompetence, but one of much greater significance.
There is always jubilance when the high and mighty are shaken off their perches, to see insurmountable problems from ground level.
Pomposity and privilege which politicians have unworthily enjoyed or exploited, are now knocked flat by the exercise of a heavy gavel, which has been too long in the coming. But when it has finally done so, firmly, resolutely and worthily, employing the power with which they were armed. It is hopefully, not a case of too little too late, but the legitimate and purposeful exercise of hitherto dormant power. This, on behalf of a tormented people. They have reason to doubt ever tasting decency and equity. But, one needs to look beyond a natural euphoria. One may add, with more than a streak of sadism. “The biter, has at long last been bit”.
When access to the Privy Council, the last bastion of the oppressed, was done away with, as a repulsive relic of a colonized past, it was made to look like a firm assertion of a nascent race casting, aside the shackles and manacles of the vanquished.
This was a nakedly political decision, expected in a Nation, intoxicated with a new found Independence. There would at least be a half dozen citizens now and decidedly more to follow, to rue this reckless deed, born merely to punish this resort, so cleverly used to free the suspects of the attempted Coup of 1971. This brings in an element of finality to bolster the enthusiasm and relief of freedom, from a sometimes viciously selective and savagely cruel Establishment.
This verdict carries a powerful message for hypocrites waiting to enter the castle of politics, where absolute power flourishes. Where is possible to exercise limitless laxity, bereft of any inconvenient hurdles. Our Supreme Court has shown otherwise. One hopes that the fear of punishment and retribution, will deter the unsavory, criminal adventurists from entering the heavenly gates of local bodies, and maybe, even the portals of higher heaven via the Diyawanna Ambalama. One dares to hope that a better quality of Members may result, and in a kind of a reverse Domino effect, ultimately reducing the inordinate cost of elections. Thus the concomitant corruption, expressed as access to bribes, commissions and poisonous perks, as justifiable means of redeeming their investment. It is difficult to envisage Parliament to become a capable institution, able to draw on the Members’ strengths, to deliver a necessary service to those who elected them. Just now it looks like a cash cow with multiple teats for all to suck but none to bathe and feed this holy mount, which will slowly move to its inevitably painful demise.
The immense value of the Supreme Court judgement will deter the adventurists, hitherto able to float into oblivion, carrying with them loot, in the firm belief that none will be there to deter their rapid but quiet departure to a glittering future for sons, daughters and grandchildren, to proudly boast of the wisdom and ability of their ancestor. This may not be so, if the Supreme Court will, by this courageous verdict, inject some hope of recovery for our seemingly hopeless state.
Meanwhile, let the delinquents soon to face their doom, shiver in their dreams and wet pants, for their not too distant, day of reckoning.