16 January, 2021

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Can Anti-Corruption Campaigners Justify Impeachment Of CJ?

By JC Weliamuna

JC Weliamuna

There was much publicity given in state media, run by a group of well-known hate campaigners, that the impeachment of the Chief Justice is the right thing  in the anti-corruption discourse and that that Sri Lanka can be proud of such an impeachment. We are not at all surprised with this line of crusades, particularly at a crucial time in our history when the government will do anything possible under the sun to use its hidden investments and human resources.

Firstly, no sensible person will disagree that any allegations against a judge must be investigated.  Such allegations must be investigated by an impartial and independent body and within a framework of the Rule of Law. The objections from the lawyers and others against the current impeachment on the Chief Justice is that the entire impeachment process is politically motivated  and has been done without following the basic principles of natural justice or Rule of Law.

Secondly, there is evidence on how the seven members of the Government conducted the impeachment inquiry; no sensible person would disagree that the inquiry was a sham and no reasonable opportunity was given to the Chief Justice to defend herself.  She was humiliated and no disclosed procedure was adopted for the inquiry. Let us forget for the moment the constitutionality of the impugned Standing Order 78A. In and outside Parliament, the Government and its propaganda tool s- print & electronic state media – carried out an extensive hate campaign against the Chief Justice and the lawyers. The Chief Justice was forced to leave the inquiry and the four Opposition Members were also compelled to leave. Finally, in a one day inquiry, the seven Government MPs found the CJ guilty of some charges! We now know that the other four Members were not even given the draft report for their consideration. Instead, two Members out of the seven have come out openly in a shameless attack on the Chief Justice on state media.

Thirdly, all basic norms, nationally and internationally,   requires the Governments to follow the basic principles of Rule of Law in any inquiry, even in relation to corruption investigations. For example, the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), ratified by Sri Lanka, recognized the need to follow basic rules of law in relation to corruption investigations and trails etc.  UNCAC is not introduced to replace the concept of  Rule of Law and hence it is not possible to hang a convict or cut the hands  of a convict, when a person is convicted of corruption. Why? Anti-corruption movement, like the human rights movement, are there to promote Rule of Law, and not to entomb the Rule of Law. What is expected in the anti-corruption movement is to establish a cherished society that respects the Rule of Law, instead of the rule of the jungle. UNCAC is not about prosecutions and investigations; rather a broad framework to prevent corruption and much more. The anti-corruption movement is a progressive movement. The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), responsible for many aspects of UNCAC, and the Rule of Law Unit of the UN, chaired by Deputy Secretary General have no different views on the rule of law and anti -corruption. It states:

 “Fostering respect for and adherence to the rule of law is at the centre of the international community’s efforts to address crime, drugs and terrorism. Governance and anti-corruption, strengthening justice systems and improving safety and security are key aspects of UNODC’s work in promoting the rule of law world-wide.”

There are examples the world over on anti-corruption investigations by independent bodies; probably the Hong Kong Anti-corruption Commission is the most effective and has won the respect of all. It gives all opportunities for any suspect  to face a fair inquiry, whilst the legal system in Hong Kong ensures full and impartial trial for the suspect.  No rights have been taken away from the suspect. Why?  A country respecting a social stability cannot forget basic values of a civilized nation.

The practical and theoretical arguments against the impeachment of the Chief Justice are based on one fundamental issue; she was not given a fair hearing and she was thereby deprived of basic protections under Rule of Law.  Merely referring to a bank account details (obviously obtained unlawfully) or unproved charges (made by some MPs) do not establish the guilt of a person (in this case the Chief Justice), unless the trial was conducted by a competent body,  in accordance with accepted norms.   If we do not accept the presumption of innocence, we do not need a trial. The world has seen similar mock trials and those who respect Rule of Law and democracy do not consider those trials as fair. We do not consider those who are convicted in such a trial as guilty; rather we consider it a trial against the very tribunal for lacking integrity.  Personal bias had first infected some of the members of the Parliamentary Select Committee but now we see personal bias has also infected others as well. This is the test case to prove whether we are civilized – individually and as a nation.

At a time false propaganda is a matter of national policy, there is a duty on the part of honorable individuals to stand up to it, rather than becoming a part of the propaganda machinery.  As Mr. Kanag Iswaran PC opened his submissions in Courts on the reference cases on impeachment, “We are at a critical juncture of our nation. The barbarians are at the gate of the Temple of Justice. You let them in, they will destroy all that is sacred to us and install in the altar of justice false prophets”.  The   propaganda of the government, now joined by a chosen few, tells the nation that false prophets  are already being installed. The barbarians are at your door step!!!

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    Welimuna…

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    Handful of corrupt individuals who desperately try to cover-up corruption from the Judiciary in the institution where they are working still remain committed to campaign for impeachment. Unfortunately, they have no other alternative, if the judiciary remains independent they end up in prison. The only way to survive for them is to create a chaotic situation if there is complete break down of law and order situation, then only they can continue to thrive on corruption. As long as these individuals stay in the office there will be chaos, at the end political leadership will also get in to unnecessary trouble by trying to cover-up by keeping them as heads of institutions. Head of the state in any other country would have removed them immediately to save the political leadership from eternal trouble. At the end political leaders get trapped, by the time head of the State understand reality it may be too late.

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    “The Chief Justice was forced to leave the inquiry and the four Opposition Members were also compelled to leave.”

    Forced by whom, Mr Weliamuna. Some of your lawyer friends have boasted it was your strategy to force her to leave in order to try and create a protest movement in the country.

    The committee acted “ex parte” Mr Weliamuna. If you are a qualified lawyer you should know what an inquiry can do if the defendent chooses not to appear.

    Mr Nihal Sri amarasekera, a genuine local anti-corruption campaigner has looked at every thing and his view is good enough for the country. Carpet baggers can go to foreign embassies can collect their take, saying you tried your best.

    Transparency, my rear end!

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      “Mr Nihal Sri amarasekera, a genuine local anti-corruption campaigner”. Oh! my God! The guy who used the Hilton case to get out of his own debts to banks? We have not been reborn! He is Tilanga’s accountant and advisor. Go tell this to the Chinese, there are plenty around!

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        Nihal Sri is trying to save his skin.

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    Thank you JC Weliamuna. For being a brave voice of reason and a consistent supporter of the rule of law, even in difficult circumstances. Even though I may not agree with everything you say, your courage to sometimes oppose the government is a gift to the future generations of this country.

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    Dear Mr. Weliamuna,

    Please read my following comment, and advise us as to what steps,plans, actions….both offensive and defensive, that you plan to take with other opposition parties, trade unions, clergy and General Public ….as to what you all plan do if Govt.Impeach CJ…and take over Supreme Court.

    Please Read my comment:

    Gota’s dream state is the PERMANENT OCCUPATION of Sri lanka under MARA,GOTA,BARA,CHAMA,…. craving people to accept that the Rajapakses are the Saviors of Sri Lanka…..and nobody else.

    Anybody oppose to their false ideology is either a Terrorist or treasonist betrayer or a foreign conspirator….or a regime Changer.

    Recent speaches give by Gota say it all clearly…….and will not stop at anything to move away from what he said including using…..state terrorism to suppress any peoples uprising against their ideology.

    Recent attakes both in Jaffna and colombo university students, white van abductions, inpresionments, against Judges and judcial officers, are few of them.

    MEANWHILE THE MOST GRUESOME ISSUE IS THE RECENT OVER 15 HARD CORE MURDER CONVICTS BEEN TAKEN AWAY FROM WELIKADA PRISON AND THEIR WHEREABOUTS ARE UNKNOWN. THE SPECULATION IS THEY COULD BE USED FOR VARIOUS GOVT. CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES AGAINST ANY OPPONENTS THAT GOTA.FEELS AS A THREAT TO THE DICTATORIAL REGIME.

    There are some basic queations that opposition parties should answer and prepared for.
    ————————————————————————-
    1)Given January.10th 2013 if Govt. Parliament issue the verdict as CJ is guilty and should vacate her position…..similar to PSC ruling……what is opposition parties plan to do………

    2)Is opposition parties plan to cordinate trade unions, Clergy, students unions, professionals and general public to protest against the verdict…..

    3)Is opposition parties planning to educate International community,UN, CW and SL Diaspora community on the danger of the Verdict….and how Govt.try to suppress liberty and justice in Sri Lanka.

    4)If mad GOTA plan to unleash violent suppressions against peoples protests……what action opposition parties plan to take for safety of CJ, Judiciary, Supreme Court and the Buildings and Files and Documents…etc.

    5)How opposition parties plan to keep CJ in her position intact without allowing MARA/GOTA and their Party goons from taking over CJ and judiciary position and powers………………

    6)How opposition parties plan to inform and educate public as to how public could contribute to safeguard CJ and Judiciary….and their rights.

    If opposition Parties (Mainly UNP and JVP)…or anybody could answer these questions will be helpful.

    Therefore I request all the opposition parties to come up with Plan A..B..and C to Safeguard our Madam CJ and her life, the Judiciary and inform Masses in advance as to what action they should take and how we could contribute to STOP MARA GOVT. TRYING TO CHASE OUR CHIEF JUSTICE…. AS WE CANNOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN.

    WE ARE EVEN READY TO GET INTO STREETS AND WILL RALLY ROUND THE SUPREME COURT FOR SATYAGRAHA. WE WILL NEVER ALLOW MARA DICTATOR TO CHANGE CJ AND WILL FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHTS TO THE END.

    BOTH UNP AND JVP ALONG WITH ALL TRADE UNIONS SHOULD TAKE A STRONG PRIORITY TO ORGANISE MASS DEMONSTRACTIONS AND INFORM US CITIZENS HOW TO JOIN YOU.

    ALSO KEEP INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND UN BE INFORMED TO COME TO OUR RESCUE IF GOTA PLANS TO UNLEASH HIS UNDERWORLD THUGS, SIMILAR TO WELIKADA PRISON MASSACRE TO DISRUPT OUR DEMONSTRACTIONS AND HURT OUR LIVES.

    This is Very Important.

    EVERY PATRIOT SHOULD COME FOREWARD TO SAFEGURAD CJ, JUDICIARY, PEOPLES INDEPENDENCE AND CITIZENS RIGHTS.

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    CJ cannot be judged guilty without a fair trial. That is the bottom line regardless of the smell emanating from peoples rear. Unfortunately PSC and Parliment smells all over.

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    Weliamuna, …

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    Niroshani, What exactly are you talking about? Is it the CTB or the UGC ? CTB of caurse having so many Private buses to run!

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    Mr. Nihal Sri Ameresekere’s work in the public interest at his own cost, unlike NGOs is known. Some of his actions include the Tax Amnesty, Debt Recovery Law, Appropriation Bill 2008, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation and Lanka Marine Services Privatizations, the Hedging deals and the recent Expropriation Law, which was approved by the CJ behind the back of affected parties, without affording any opportunity to them of being heard and thus denying natural justice to such parties and in violation of Article 123 (3) of the Constitution. On the other hand, CJ had a full month to Answer. Hilton Case is not a public interest action but his own business, as prominently displayed in the double page advertisements today in the Daily Mirror, DailyFT, Lankadeepa and Mawbima. He is entitled to be compensated, since the Government cannot enrich itself by his actions. Guarantees given in the promotion of Hilton was paid by him, contrary to what Minister G.L. Peiris being affected by the action had falsely stated . Courageous Justice Sarath Ambepitiya struck out the Answer of Minister G.L Peiris for his duplicity and gave Mr. Nihal Sri Ameresekere an ex-parte trial in a District Court Case. Thilanga Sumathipala had been one among many of his Clients – what that has to do is not known ? Mr. Weliamuna, why did you not have the courage to name Mr. Nihal Sri Ameresekere ? There is a Chapter on Transparency International and its duplicity in his Book – “United Nations Convention Against Corruption – to Combat Fraud & Corruption – a Cancerous Menace – with Mere Rhetoric Subverts UN Convention”. The Sunday Island had reported that you had opposed the appointment of CJ and that she should not hear political cases, which had been upheld by the Supreme Court presided by Justice Mark Fernando – one of the Charges. Why did you not take up such Objections when you appeared before her in political cases ?

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    Weliamuna

    Is Jayantha’s tongue really smooth?

    How much of the Rockefeller money are you giving him?
    Afew dollars. Good , Thilanga wont pay him any more.

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    Mr. Weliamuna, there are many right thinking people in the country who admire your courage, your relentless battle against corruption and injustice.We all understand that you are opposing the impeachment on a matter of principle.We know that you will Carry on your struggle undeterred by unfair criticisms. But you have to be on your guard against the white van terror.

    By the way, the Kangaroo trials by the state media placing the Chief Justice in the dock have become a daily feature. Why don’t the lawyers like you institute legal proceedings against these lackeys of the corrupt regime for contempt of court?

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    Saman Wijesiri is desperate. He wants to limit freedom of speech through contempt of court action.

    Why dont you ask the CJ to give a press conference and tell the whole country –

    – Did she get a 15 lakh discount from Ceylinco group
    – Is cting as power of Attorney without proper procedure ok?
    – Why did her sister want to use her name to buy a property like all other expatriates, if not to get a good discount?
    – Why did she remove Justice Tilakawardena from the Golden Key case bench, against the previous CJ’s orders.
    – Why did she take on the Divineguma case against previous instructions to not to hear cases on devolution?
    Why did she threaten a poor woman magistrate who had a sexual harrassment complaint to withdraw it?

    Saman, do we need a long drawn out procesure to clear our minds on this, or can she convince the PSC and the people by simply giving answers.

    When are people like you and Weliamuna going to stop wasting your time trying to make a ‘fair ‘trial’issue.
    nothing else but frauds.

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    Psycho, in a civilized democratic society, people should enjoy the freedom of speech and they do have a right to it. But they don’t insult the judiciary. And in a civilized society, those who abuse their freedom of speech are not or should not be whitevanned or eliminated by other sinister illegal means. You have to move the law against them without taking the law into your hands as Mervin did when he tied a Grama Sevaka to a tree! If I suggested a Kangaroo trial like the infamous PSC to punish those who insult the judiciary, you, Psycho could have justifiably faulted me!

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