17 December, 2017

Blog

Bar Association Mafia 

By Nagananda Kodituwakku –

Nagananda Kodituwakku

Bar Association of Sri Lanka in its website displays the following quotation taken from the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers: 

“Governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference”

However, following the same path of those who are holding office in the Legislature and Executive who pledge people to perform public office faithfully with due respect to the Constitution and the rule of law but practice completely the opposite, the Bar Association too simply follows the suit. It pledges to honour the independence of the judiciary, the Rule of Law and Administration of justice sans interference, whilst promoting the honorable practice of law in reality it simply acts as a self-centered mafia style organization.   

In this country it is an undeniable fact that the Judiciary is under tremendous pressure from the Executive and the Legislature.  And politicians in the caliber of Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe openly ridicule and undermine the authority of the judiciary and claims that the Parliament is supreme over the judiciary, and it has no authority to exercise the judicial power, except through the parliament. His disparaging statement goes as follows. 

“… Supreme Court does not even have to exercise the judicial power of the people and it does not have power to violate the basic tenets of the Constitution, which the Supreme Court has been unfortunately doing in the last decade… and it is acting as a dictator… ” (Parliamentary Hansard of 07th July 2016).

When a person holding a high profile public office makes such an intimidatory statement against the judiciary that exercises people’s judicial power citizenry expect the Bar Association, the professional body of lawyers to defend the judiciary, which however never occurs in this island nation.

Yet, there is a national need to uphold the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law without which no democracy can survive and this is what exactly has happened in the Republic Sri Lanka. It is a proven fact that no one in authority takes judiciary seriously due to unforgivablelapses on the part of the judiciary permitting the other two organs to ridicule it. Not just once but many times over, the Executive President and the Prime Minister of the present regime have undermined the authority of the judiciary pointing the finger at the Chief Justice who had pleaded for favours from the Executive promising to deliver judgments favoring the government and appointing judges according to the wishes of the Executive.

The statement made by the Prime Minister in the Parliament on 30th Jan 2017 about the despicable conduct of the Chief Justice Mohan Peiris who had sought favours to remain in office with promises to make judgments to please the Executive and also to appoint the judges as per the directions of the Executive, the details of which were fully reported in the Parliamentary Hansard dated 30th Jan 2015 is one of the best examples. Subsequently the Executive President himself reaffirmed this statement referring to the favours sought by the Chief Justice Mohan Peiris. The media gave maximum publicity to this improper, insulting, intolerable and unbecoming behavior of the Chief Justice that patently violated the public trust doctrine. Yet, due to the dismal failure of the rule of law in this country, so far no disciplinary proceedings have been instituted against the lawyer Mohan Peiris. And despite a credible complaint with all relevant information presented to the CIABOC, it too has miserably failed to uphold the rule of law and to initiate action to prosecute Mohan Peiris and other judges of the Apex Court who have been charged for judicial corruption. This dismal failure on the part of the CIABOC has on 26th Sep 2017 afforded the Supreme Court an opportunity to take up the position that those charges against the judges are not well-founded. 

Therefore, the need has arisen to stop interference of the judiciary and intimidation of judges, a fundamental necessity to restore the rule of law in the country.  On 10th July 2017 I took an initiative in this regard and called for a Special General Meeting of the Bar Association to discuss these issues, which are of critical national importance. The said request was made after fully complying with the necessary formalities of the constitution of the Bar Association. Unfortunately, the Executive Committee of the Bar Association, which has been installed in office with only 3000 votes out of a total eligible voter count of 13750, simply turned a blind eye on the request.

No doubt the people would agree that the absence of the rule of law in a country directly affects the innocent litigants. That effectively allows the dishonest lawyers to abuse their clients, which has become a regular occurrence in this country. It was not long ago that two lawyers forcibly took away some jewelry from their client who had a difficulty in paying the fees.  Yet, they were able to go scot-free simply because there is no proper regulatory mechanism in this country to discipline the errant lawyers unlike in Britain. The UK has a strong regulatory authority to protect the citizens from unscrupulous lawyers, with powers to remove undesirable elements from practice of law whereas such actions are unheard of in Sri Lanka. 

The general public critically views these incidents and begins to lose their trust and confidence in the entire lawyer community and the judiciary, compelling the people to go elsewhere seeking justice, for example, the UN Human Rights Council. The appalling conditions prevailing at present generate the negative impact on the entire lawyer community that includes genuine practitioners of law as well. People use the same yardstick to measure the good lawyers too for no fault of them. 

As a lawyer practicing in two jurisdictions (England and Sri Lanka) recently I made inquiries (03rd Aug 2017) from the professional body of lawyers in the UK – the Law Society – and also from the Bar Association of Sri Lanka about the disciplinary actions taken by them respectively against the lawyers for professional misconduct for the year 2016. The response given by the Law Society in the UK (23rd Aug 2017) and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka is as follows.

England and Wales                                                        Sri Lanka

a). Number of lawyers removed from the Role  – 76             Nil

b). Number suspended – 21                                                        Nil

c). And the number imposed fines – 55                                    Nil

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka drew a blank as above, and even refrained from sending an acknowledgment to the query. Apparently, it had nothing to report at all. However, after my continuous insistence to have their stand known in writing, the Bar Association informed me on 11th Sep 2017, that it would not release such information without a directive from the Supreme Court, which understandably has nothing to do with the release of such information pertaining to the Bar Association.    

The bottom line is that there is a dire need for the establishment of an independent body to regulate the legal profession with wide powers to install strict discipline in the profession fulfilling the expectations of the general public. 

*Nagananda Kodituwakku, Attorney-at-Law (Sri Lanka) & Solicitor (England)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 16
    0

    Very good article . Very informative and eye opener. Sri Lankan legal system is still evolving after the war but in a very slow speed. Recent cases relating to the’ jailing’ of prominent political VIP’s are the typical example.

    In addition to this one senior judge in Jaffna is behaving like a social commentator / revolutionist. I wont be surprise if he becomes the next chief minister for North. Again in Jaffna there is two Bar Associations. One led by a reject from the UK. Solicitors who are in border line of being stuck off in overseas have gone back to Sri Lanka and discrediting the local legal system. Apparently they have gone back home give some thing back to the society – OH no……

    • 14
      0

      Mr. Nagananda Kodituwakku, the mafia Criminal Network in Sri Lanka is exposing their entire network with every move they make/ avoid to make. The public and the International community are now able to clearly see who are the members of this network of crooks protecting criminals and preventing progress in our country!?

      They don’t even know by attacking you they are bringing their entire criminal network into the spotlight…

      Keep up the good work Mr. Nagananda Kodituwakku. Wish you all the best with cleaning up our legal system.
      This country needs more people like you to set a good example for people to follow.

      Too many people idealizing criminals in this country…

  • 15
    1

    Most of the Parliamentarians are not experts in any particular field, maybe with few exceptions. Ranil is one. His understanding of Justice is very poor. MR’s is worst. They believe that their wealth is carried forward to next life. They hardly realise that their senses are shut off one by one when their chapter closes and their existence ends then and there. No one is born again and will never happen. For a country to function law and discipline is a must for it to remain as an organisation. It is then people will live happily. When the leaders are engaged in dog race, how can a country expect discipline? Definitely Regulatory bodies alienating the politicians are required to keep the discipline and peace of any country.

  • 9
    0

    Its called ‘Naduth Hamuduruwange, Baduth Hamuduruwange’ , what a shame on BASL and all lawyers representing it.

    • 1
      0

      under the present prevailing circumstances it should read as …
      ” Naduwa Haamudhuruvange “
      ” Baduwa Rajjuruwange “
      ” Rajuta oenae vunahama “
      ” Haamuduruvanta evanavaa “
      ” Naduwa Balawanna “
      That is what the Rajjuruvoe did to the Provincial Council amendment bill recently…

  • 12
    0

    All office holders of the BASL and the GMOA should be put on the same spacecraft and sent to Pluto with one-way tickets.

  • 10
    0

    Thanks for the eye opener. A close family of mine is involved in litigating against an encroacher on his land. The lawyer representing the encroacher is continuously postponing case date by handing in sick notes and not appearing on case dates, but known to be attending to other matters at his practice (proof obtained). My relative by way of an affidavit, wrote to Chief Justice & BASL president to inquire into the matter and take action against lawyer. At the BASL inquiry, the 2 lawyers who inquired into the matter said, fault was not with the encroacher’s lawyer as he was entitled to do it, but the judge who accepted the sick notes is at fault and be reported to JSC.

    This clearly shows not only that BASL and its members are fully incapable of ensuring adherence of their members to their code of professional conduct (if they have such a code), but they are also uable/unwilling to take action against those who violate them.

    • 9
      0

      Lankaman, these are the things we must ask Mr. Nagananda Kodituwakku to expose…

      How the legal system is exploiting citizens of this country instead of setting their problems…

  • 4
    1

    Thanks, Nagananda K., for exposing the system. I guess that all too many of us understood that this is how the system operates, but we didn’t care enough to fight it. The result of all this is that society as a whole rejects the entire legal system, regarding every one in it as bloodsuckers.

    If anybody thinks of all this as something recent, or peculiar to Sri Lanka, read Charles Dickens. This is not to say that we should all get cynical and accept this state of affairs. There used to be lawyers who realised the tremendous responsibility laid upon them and acted on a much higher plane. Why should I keep using the past tense, though? What Naga Kodi has written, and more importantly has done, demonstrates that we have at least one lawyer who is decent and courageous.

  • 5
    0

    Continued . . .

    This is not to say that Naga (I’ve not even seen him in person, but please grant me the liberty to use such shorthand, since I have run out of ADSL data, and am reduced to using a rather primitve tablet. Yes, we guys are poor and have to make do with what we have to fight the infinitely better equipped mafia. Let us pride ourselves on emulating, in some respects at least, the likes of Socrares and Diogenes.)

    . . . that is not to say, that Naga is unique in being an honest lawyer. Every town has a lawyer or two I guess who has good impulses, but those intetions often get snuffed out by the system. Heroes are not born to set things right. They emerge when the circumstances are right. I think that Tolstoy devmelops some such theme in “War and Peace”.

    But this is not fiction. This is happening in the real real world that we inhabit. The Establishment will try snuff Naga out. WE must defend him, some of us boldly, others motre timorously.

  • 1
    0

    When SB Mahavamsa supremacist ideology claims sole possession of ultimate leadership it is un able to understand that it is in conflict with the fundamental principles of an open democratic society.
    It postulates that because it holds a stronger numerical majority, it is stronger and therefore must know what is best even for others who are not within it’s fold.
    It is unable to comprehend that the entire foundation for holding that vision is just a nightmare. That is it’s problem

  • 1
    0

    This is the sort of action that the Establishment will initiate:

    http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=172391

    I’m sorry if my search has not been diligent enough, and if someone else has posted the same link.

    But I see no reference to this fine article on a theme that is surely related. From North, South, East and West, we must all raise our voices of protest:

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/voter-participation-the-sri-lankan-scene/comment-page-1/#comment-2133522

    I rather feel that many would have seen that article, but for a variety of reasons have not commented.

  • 1
    0

    The Lawyers and the Bar Association is a disgrace to the whole legal profession. What use is this system where no proper legal advice can be got and get advice only to prolong the case. The BASL is no different to the rest of the system. It is part of institutionalised corruption. How ever much the association wishes to portray themselves as moral to the ordinary people lawyers to them are nitigna horu.

  • 0
    0

    Naga or Not. The system has always been like that. Ordinary people had no choice but just look on. Wasn’t there a worse time under the British colonial rule ? The poor people of Sri Lanka who were not conversant in English had to undergo the humiliation of appearing before a court of law without understanding a word of what was going on. They did not know how they happened to be incarcerated or worse, why they were ordered to be hanged, because all hearings were in English and only around 7% of the local population understood English ! Talk about UK justice eh?

  • 0
    0

    Mr. Nangananda Kodithuwakku , I have a good story to tell you about the BASL it will be good if we could communicate thru email.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.