By Elmore Perera –
Unbelievable? May be in the civilised world but certainly not in the Wonder of Asia! The primary duty of a law-enforcement officer is to act forthwith to prevent a breach of the peace, almost at any cost. It is said that “Good habits die hard”. To prevent, what in his esteemed opinion was an imminent breach of the peace, the Speaker, a distinguished Police Officer of yester year, relying on the considerable legal knowledge he had acquired over the years boldly delivered ground – breaking rulings. He ruled inter alia that both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal had erred by failing to recognise what he seemed to believe was, the immutable principle of “Parliamentary Supremacy” and had overstepped their authority by daring to restrict the powers of the Legislature of which he was the Head. He seemed either to have lost sight of the fact that all such emergency measures were subject to the scrutiny and review by the Judiciary or to have deemed it inapplicable to his exalted position as Head of the Legislature. Predictably, he was vociferously egged on by MPs on both sides of the House to actively pursue his valiant efforts to restore to Parliament a supremacy which had admittedly been explicitly extinguished and “buried” for 34 years after the current Constitution, was adopted in 1978. The culmination of his rash rulings was his purported validation of the PSC’s, finding of guilt of the CJ (which finding had been explicitly declared null and void by the Court of Appeal) and the overwhelming approval of such resurrected findings by the very accusers, in Parliament on “Black Friday”. On the unholy Saturday that followed the Editor of a local Newspaper stated that “it was more like a Good Friday for Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake”.
The Deputy Speaker stated that the “address” to remove the Chief Justice had already been presented to the President. The “Barbarians” at the gates of the Citadel of Justice were straining at the leash to complete the foul deed entrusted to them, (by ‘whom’ is anyone’s guess). The “rugged cross,” a plentiful supply of “nails” the inscription, and even the “crown of thorns” were all ready, and waiting to be used by those who perhaps believed that they are on a lawful and patriotic mission of crucifying the CJ and thereby resurrecting the long dead and buried “Supremacy of Parliament”.
The recipient of the potentially disastrous address of Parliament, is a Senior Lawyer who consistently professes to respect the Independence of the Judiciary. His legal acumen, admittedly streets ahead of that of his elder sibling, the Speaker, will certainly reveal to him that the Supreme Court interpretation re the validity of Standing Order 78A and the Court of Appeal order quashing the PSC findings of guilt, preclude him from acting on a vote of mere Parliamentarians with little or no knowledge of the law, in respect of a purported finding of guilt, already authoritatively quashed by the Court of Appeal.
Through the good graces of his spouse, this President has been privileged to have two audiences with His Holiness the Pope. He must therefore surely know some, if not all of the gruesome details of what took place on the one and only “Good Friday”. He is presently in the position that “Pilate” was in, on that fateful Maundy Thursday.
The “Braveheart” Chief Justice has vowed to fight this injustice –even at the cost of her own life! There is no reason to believe that she would now waver.
Just as Pilate did then, the President can now choose to “wash his hands off” and give the green light to the barbarians, crouching at the gates, to crucify her on “Calvary’s Hill” – sorry, I mean on “Hultsdorp Hill”, – and appoint the Judas who betrayed her, or one of the several fawning Barabbuses available for him to choose from, to take her place.
Alternatively, he can abide by the rulings of the Courts, which any lawyer knows are valid and binding, and direct the Legislature to comply with the said rulings, and afford the CJ a fair trial – which, after all, is all that she has asked for.
Astute Politician that he is, the President surely knows that the appeal by the Friday Forum accurately reflects the current view of the Sovereign people, except perhaps the paid hoodlums who have certainly made their presence felt by blatant acts of thuggery with the blessings of the law-enforcement agencies, and also the beneficiaries of lucrative patronage appointments both within and outside Parliament.
How will he respond to this appeal? The future of our resplendent motherland will be determined by this one single decision of his!
We all wait with bated breath to see which particular dictate of his “conscience” he will finally follow. “Retribution” or “vengeance” –call it what you will – which follows with the certainty that night follows day, will be no solace to a bruised and bleeding nation. On this Holy Sunday most Sri Lankans will pray to their own God, if any, that he may be endowed with the wisdom to eschew bravado and exhibit exemplary statesmanship to save the nation from certain chaos and isolation from the civilised world.
*Elmore Perera, Attorney-at-Law, Founder CIMOGG, Past President OPA