The Minister for Local Government and Provincial Councils, Faizer Mustapha, at a media conference has admitted that the removal of the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake from office was unlawful, but he along with the other Cabinet of Ministers of the Rajapakse government were helpless, had no option but to agree with the Party Leader in approving the despicable act. The Minister pleads an apology from the people of Sri Lanka for the serious wrong committed by him to please the then Executive President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka, simply a pseudo democracy
This statement of admission of guilt should be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately by the people, if this country is to install at least an iota of democracy in governance. After all, this shall not be construed as a petty offence but a grave criminal offence committed collectively by the Rajapaksa regime. The democracy requires that the Judiciary shall be respected and not encroached by the other two organs, ensuring due observance of the notion of separation of power, which is integral to any functioning democracy.
Abuse of office for vengeance is a punishable offence
The Report filed by the Director General of Bribery and Corruption in the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Colombo on 26th July 2013, against the Chief Justice, sets out two offences alleged to have committed under Section 9(1) of the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Act No 01 of 1975, which provides for a jail term of one year or a fine of one thousand rupees or both fine and imprisonment.
Now, with these utterances made in public by a person, holding not less than a office of a Cabinet Minister, it is patently clear that an absolutely false charge had been framed to punish the Chief Justice for not complying with the commands of the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
This admission of guilt by the Minister Mustapha is amplified by the Attorney General’s submissions made to Court on 19th Feb 2016 for the withdrawal of the charges leveled against the Chief Justice Shirani Bandranayake and to exonerate her.
The Court then made an order, exonerating the Chief Justice from all the charges, whilst removing all restrictions imposed on her, including the seizure of her travel document.
Offence of corruption committed by the Corruption Commission
Whole country knows that the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake had earned the wrath of the Executive President Rajapakse, after declaring a number of Bills presented to the Court, were not in consistent with the provisions of the Constitution. This included the infamous ‘Divineguma Bill’ presented by the then then Minister Basil Rajapaksa who was a brother and an advisor to the President. By the time a fear psychosis had prevailed in the government business no voice raised against the lawless administration as the Minister Mustapha has rightly admitted.
All these revelations make it patently clear how the then Attorney General, and all members of the Corruption Commission, had abused their respective offices for unlawful purpose of conspiring against the Chief Justice on absolutely unfounded charges merely to please the then Executive President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was hell-bent on getting rid of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and installing a subservient stooge in the office of the Chief Justice.
This is a classic case of corruption committed by all the members of the Corruption Commission itself. The Section 70 of Bribery Act, which defines the offence of corruption, includes the act of abusing office to confer a benefit favouring another person or for the benefit of the office holder. This is exactly what the Commissioners of the Corruption Commission had committed to please the Executive President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Lessons learnt will help the country move forward
Indeed, this country will surely move forward, only if right-thinking, fearless and selfless people come out of hibernation and dedicate themselves to get rid of the pseudo democracy that is entrenched in this island nation. The people should realize that the struggle for installing a true democracy includes, decisively dealing with the corrupt elements, who have abused high public offices for improper purposes.