‘Who made thee a judge over us?’ makes discerning Sri Lankans rethink and wonder as to how to ensure that the judges appointed are truly impartial and independent, going beyond maintaining the outlook or the outer decorum and dignity of the judiciary and the justice system at large.
Corrupt Court of Appeal President Justice Abdul Hameed Dileep Nawaz who was promoted recently by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is heading for a roller-coaster judicial career with the Rajapaksa Regime trying its level best to hastily adjudicate the infamous Sil Redi Case appeal in which then Secretary to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa – Lalith Weeratunge was found guilty, the Colombo Telegraph reliably learns.
During discussions within the highest echelons in the country, it is reliably learnt that it had been unanimously decided that Justice Nawaz must not only decide the bench but also preside the bench that will hear the appeal over the criminal misappropriation of Rs 600 million in the run up to the 2015 Presidential Election.
It is learnt that as although Weeratunge is nominally a presidential advisor, he does currently operate as a defacto Presidential Secretary, in a manner similar to all decisions taken by Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Finance – S. R. Attygalle being vetted by defamed corrupt Dr. P. B. Jayasundara according to several Temple Trees and Presidential Secretariat sources.
In September 2017, Weeratunge and former Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Director General Anusha Pelpita were found guilty of misappropriating Rs.600 million of TRC funds for the distribution of Sil Redi and sentenced to three years Rigorous Imprisonment by the Colombo High Court.
Sentencing the duo, the High Court Judge said that the accused had committed this offence with the intention of gaining undue advantage to then President and incumbent Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and each were thus ordered to pay a compensation of Rs 50 million in lieu of losses incurred by the TRC.
Each of the accused were further ordered to pay a fine of two million rupees and in default of the payment of which would have to serve additional one year imprisonment.
The Colombo Telegraph published in that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa‘s first major judicial nomination was Court of Appeal Judge Nawaz who being promoted as President of the Court of Appeal virtually unnoticed in the country’s mainstream media.
Nawaz is the first sitting judge and the senior-most judicial officer to have been charge sheeted by the Bribery Commission for corruption during his time at the Attorney General’s Department. Mohan Pieris who usurped the Chief Justice chair after the illegal impeachment of Shirani Bandaranayake has also been named in the corruption case number 87741/01/18 at the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court. The case is currently before the Supreme Court after Mohan Pieris filed a writ challenging the Bribery Commission’s case. It will come up again in the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court by May 2020.
In 2018, the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) had charged former Attorney General Mohan Pieris, Court of Appeal Judge A.H.M.D. Nawaz and former Lanka Electricity Company (Private) Limited (LECO) Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando for preparing an erroneous Attorney General’s report to avoid taking legal action against irregularities committed by the LECO Chairman while purchasing of lands for LECO during 1 December and 30 December 2010.
The accused were alleged to have gained a wrongful or unlawful benefit from LECO funds, under the Bribery Act.
Since he was charged by the Bribery Commission, Nawaz has been prevented from hearing cases at the Court of Appeal by every President of the CA who has held office.
Speaking to Colombo Telegraph about the President’s first judicial appointments, a senior President’s Counsel told Colombo Telegraph that Justice Nawaz is known to pronounce judgments without the judgment being written. Many cases were either dismissed or allowed without the written judgment in the case record. When Anidda newspaper Editor K.W. Janaranjana filed a Right to Information request, the Registrar of the Court of Appeal issued a RTI reply giving all the details and the reply was published in the “Anidda” newspaper.
When Justice Preeti Padman Surasena served as President of the Court of Appeal, he did not allow Justice Nawaz to hear cases, but requested him to finish writing just judgments in his Chambers. However, when pro-Rajapaksa justice who gave the white flag order against General Sarath Fonseka briefly held the position as acting President of the CA, her first order of business was to allow Nawaz to sit in open court. This decision was reversed again when Yasantha Kodagoda was appointed President, Court of Appeal.
After Speaker Karu Jayasuriya saw the Anidda report, he sent the news report to the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Legal Affairs to inquire and report on the issue pertaining to such a senior member of the judiciary. Janaranjana gave evidence before the Committee and drew attention to two cases which were heard by Nawaz and Justice Madawala. In the two cases, Nawaz had given the final judgment without the judgment actually being written. When he was asked for the judgment, he could not send it to the Registrar as Justice Madawala had died by that time and her signature could not be taken.
It is known that Nawaz is friendly with former Minister Hakeem, who is safeguarding Nawaz. The Registrar of the Court of Appeal was summoned before the Oversight Committee to give evidence on the RTI reply. Hakeem and several other SLMC members who were not members of the committee attended the meeting and argued in favour of Nawaz. Before the Committee could finalize its report, the Government changed with the presidential election on November 16.(By Janakie Mediwake)