18 November, 2018

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‘Dockyardgate’ Finally Comes To End

‘Dockyardgate’ finally comes to an end: Colombo Dockyard concedes liability and pays all levies with 10 million penalty

The Colombo Telegraph can now reveal that the Colombo Dockyard case, one of the major Customs revenue frauds that severely tested the integrity and commitment to honour the rule of law regarding Customs, the Attorney General’s Department and the Judiciary, has finally come to an end.

Mohan Pieris

Mohan Pieris

It was made possible purely due to the persistent efforts for justice by the lawyer and pubic interest litigation activist Nagananda Kodituwakku. This was a long overdue Customs case (P/Misc/93/2000) initiated on 07th Feb 2002 against the Colombo Dockyard Ltd, which customs had been forced to abandon due to undue interference of unimaginable scale.

When this customs case was reinstated on 07th Aug 2015 the Colombo Dockyard admitted the guilt of willful violation of the Customs Law by selling marine craft manufactured with tax-free raw materials without the prior approval of Customs and pleaded for mitigation.

Then the Colombo Dockyard Ltd was ordered to pay all Customs levies for the marine craft sold with an additional penalty of ten million rupees. The company promptly paid all levies and the penalty in full.

In 2010, when the lawyer Nagananda Kodituwakku challenged the undue interference of Mohan Pieris in this case (SCFR/536/2010) before the Supreme Court in 2010 case, it came to light that the Director General of Customs (DGC) had given clear instructions (letter dated 03rd Aug 2010) to AG Mohan Pieris that it was case of fraud amounting to colossal loss of revenue and therefore it should be defended in Court. However the Attorney General, Mohan Pieris, had abused the office of the AG to withdraw the case (SC/SLA/100/2009) on 30th Aug 2010 despite DGC’s written instructions.

It was also brought to light that the Mohan Pieris had further deceived the DGC with a letter delivered by hand on 31st Aug 2010, in which the date had been surreptitiously recorded as 26th Aug 2010. It was very clear that the letter had been initiated on 31st Aug 2010 only after the withdrawal of the case under his instructions. Apparently it was a failed attempt by Mohan Pieris to give the  impression that the said case was withdrawn with the consent of the DGC.

However, this fraudulent act by Mohan Pieris was exposed by the DGC in the written observations presented to the Supreme Court wherein the Court had been informed that the letter had been delivered only after the case was withdrawn.

However, due to various delaying tactics adopted by the AG, the lawyer Kodituwakku was never allowed to support the case filed in the Supreme Court, until Mohan Peiris was appointed to the office of the Chief Justice.

Then on 31st Jan 2013 the case was taken up for support before the accused Mohan Pieris himself whilst he was the Chief Justice. However, after objections were raised against the case being heard before him it was put off for the following day (01 Feb 2013) to be heard by a Bench, headed by S Hettige, a strong confidant of Mohan Peiris.

And on 01st Feb 2013, the Counsel Kodituwakku was never allowed to support the case on the basis that the Petitioner had challenged a judicial act, which cannot be challenged by way of a fundamental rights petition and it was summarily dismissed. However, the truth was that the Petitioner had not challenged any judicial act but a fraudulent executive act of abusing the office of the AG by Mohan Pieris to withdraw the case filed in the Supreme Court to protect the interests of the government.

After this order was made Judge S Hettige was duly rewarded by appointing him to the Public Service Commission immediately after his retirement.

However, the dismissal of the Supreme Court case (SCFR/536/2010) did not deter the lawyer Kodituwakku. On 18th Jan 2015, he himself made a complaint to the Corruption Commission in the public interest, challenging the abuse of office of Attorney General by Mohan Pieris, thereby causing a colossal loss of government revenue, an action of which fell well within the Section 70 of the Bribery Act. There was no credible investigation initiated by the Corruption Commission on this complaint. And on 27th May 2015, Lawyer Kodituwakku challenged the failure on the part of the Corruption Commission to initiate an investigation against Mohan Pieris by way of a Writ Application (SC/Writ/03/2015) filed in the Supreme Court. By this Writ Application he had requested the Court to compel the Corruption Commission to initiate a credible investigation to his complaint, and this application is scheduled to be supported before the Supreme Court on 03rd Dec 2015.

Colombo Telegraph now learns that the Corruption Commission has also initiated an inquiry into the complaint made against Mohan Peiris by the lawyer Kodituwakku and the Commission had accordingly directed him to make a detailed statement on the matter. And further to this request Lawyer Kodituwakku, has now presented an affidavit (17th Nov 2017) to the Commission, setting out the relevant facts about the recent developments in the case, with a letter (18th Nov 2015) addressed to the Commission.

Since the law has taken the right steps, lawyer Kodituwakku has now decided to withdraw the case (SC/Writ/03/2015) filed against the Corruption Commission and on 19th Nov 2015 filed a Motion in the Supreme Court, informing the courts that considering the steps taken by the Corruption Commission, he would not proceed with the said Writ Application.

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Latest comments

  • 18
    2

    Well Done. An award needs to be given for his efforts.

    • 5
      1

      I second it. Hon. Samantha Power has highlighted Sri Lanka in the last OGP in Mexico.
      It is stated elsewhere as follows: “She also announced that the OGP (Open Government
      Partnership) members that include Sri Lanka, in the coming years the US President Obama will give an award to a reformer whose efforts embody the spirit of OGP in advocating for anti-corruption, transparency or accountability.” Mr. Nagananda Kodituwakku should be Sri Lankas Nominee for 2015 OGP Summit.

  • 12
    1

    With all this crap has pulled, how come the bar association has not looked into his code of ethics and professional conduct? If it was some other country this guy would be disbarred.

    • 1
      1

      The bar “ass” is a joke.The president is a joker The whole legal system is in shambles. The one and only noble monk is gone.The country needs a rebirth before the tsunami?

  • 13
    2

    Lawyer and pubic interest litigation activist Nagananda Kodituwakku,

    RE: Dockyardgate’ Finally Comes To End

    “Since the law has taken its own motion, lawyer Kodituwakku has now decided to withdraw the case (SC/Writ/03/2015) filed against the Corruption Commission and on 19th Nov 2015 filed a Motion in the Supreme Court, informing that considering the steps taken by the Corruption Commission, he would not proceed with the said Writ Application.”

    Nagananda Kodituwakku,thank you ,sir, for all your efforts and perseverance. If not for you this would not have seen the light of day.

    Please join the JVP in unearthing the the multitudes of other cases, they are agitating.

    “Over 70 Bigwig Fraud Cases Now Completed; “Yahapālanaya Plays Cover Up” Says JVP”

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/over-70-bigwig-fraud-cases-now-completed-yahapalanaya-plays-cover-up-says-jvp/

  • 12
    1

    Mr. Nagananda Kodituwakku deserves a formal recognition from the President himself, for his tireless efforts.

    • 10
      0

      Nathan : The President must be a bit nervous that his own hanky-panky ‘deals’ through his brothers, etc will be exposed completely, so don’t hold your breath!

  • 11
    1

    When this case was taken up before the Supreme Court on 01st Feb 2013, I was in the fully-packed Court house interestingly observing this lawyer Kodituwakku’s solo struggle against the Judiciary, then headed by Chief Justice Mohan Peiris and the Attorney General’s Department openly backed by the then President.

    During the proceedings, the Addl Solicitor General Shavindra Fernando defending the former AG Mohan Peries’s conduct, demanded from the Court that rule should be issued against the lawyer barring from practice for making false allegations against Mr Mohan Peries.

    I was astonished to read this news article in CT today, which demonstrates that Mohan Peiris had been directly involved in this massive fraud which had been proved by the very admission by the accused Colombo Dockyard itself.

    As a lawyer I myself felt ashamed of the state of Judiciary before which we present our cases.

    Mr Shavindra Fernando, the incumbent Solicitor General,

    if possible, now it is time for you to defend your statement made against this brave lawyer whose unwavering commitment and persistence on behalf of the people of Sri Lanka is beyond imagination!

    I thank Colombo Telegraph for fulfilling its media duty to bring about the story of this case from beginning to end with full disclosure of facts.

    • 2
      0

      So even when former judge UN HCR Navipillay called Peiries a `liar and liar` at the UN offices before his promotion to CJ.
      You did not want to believe because of ethnic?

      This customs business is very common practice over there. In the worst scenario keep paying right upto the judges as in this case.

      Interestingly, once the government changed Lal dropped accusing Gota for his brothers murder.

      Will dog bite dog in this case?? I doubt because the system is at stake.

    • 1
      0

      Shavindra Fernando, you defending Mohan Peiris at that time has the guts as the now solicitor General defending Mohan Peiris is a disgrace. You should be kicked out as a political lacky and not fit to hold this position.Fellows like you have brought the once respectable law as a profession to be disgraced.

  • 4
    0

    This Article should be an eye-opener to the entire Yahapalana-Govt, its affiliates (UNP, SLFP, JHU and others) who should at least try to clean the Judiciary at this very moment without which the people of Sri Lanka has no place to go seeking justice against injustices committed by all organs of the government.

    • 6
      1

      This positive outcome due to the relentless efforts of a single lawyer fighting the ‘establishment’ deserves national publicity for wider coverage particulalarly at this time.

      Can Mohan Peiris be legally taken to task even now? How many such flawed judgements been given by this man during his tenure?

  • 8
    0

    Justice Siripavan, this is a good lesson for you to play your role as a true Chief Justice. Remember that Mohan Peiris is the very Chief Justice under whom you placed your signature approving 3rd term for Mahinda Rajapakse, the former President.

    If Mahinda Rajapakse had continued Mohan Peiris also would have continued as the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka. What a pity indeed!

  • 7
    0

    I address to the whole profession in Sri Lanka. Please leave out your differences and commit yourselves to install true democratic values and good governance of Sri Lanka.

    Don’t let the politicians to make the Judicial a BROTHEL HOUSE.

  • 6
    1

    To all Judges who had obediently approve the dictates of Mohan Peiris, the Crook of a CJ, please justify and accountable for all salaries and other perks paid to you by the people of this poor country.

    I applaud the CT for this brave reporting

  • 8
    1

    Mahinda Rajapakse, the former President, please note this is how you have serve the people of Sri Lanka. And your are trying to come back once again to repeat your classic performance by appointing your stooges to the highest offices in the government.

    Shame on you!

  • 3
    0

    This is why we say Sri Lankan judiciary is a non entity, there is no sense of responsibility and accountability and all are corrupt an nothing left to be salvaged.

    This is the exact reason and among other reasons because of the serious nature and the unprecedented magnitude of the war crimes by the security forces on the innocent people needs international inquiry with international judges.

    Proceeding with local corrupt judges and the judiciary will NEVER bring any reconciliation and will be a waste of time and money. We know the Paranagama report was a terrible waste of time and funds and no one including former president and crook Rajapakse never accepted it to implement the little he said.

    We also know how the shameless Mohan Pieris pleaded with the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasainghe to reappoint him as the Chief Justice and he will never pass a unfavourable verdict to the Government! Is this the level of such a man has to stoop to. What is his age? What is his education to have the mind to say and ask such a thing? Did he not have a sense of shame and guilt? He is a damn insult to the educated intelligentsia who did not care a scam to the feelings of the people when he will bow in to pass biased judgment for the favours granted. I can’t believe he had the heart to say this to the PM! Shameful clown. Mohan Pieris are you listening, why are you wearing a full suit wear a amude and that is your deserving dress code without insulting the gentleman’s attire.

    Sarath Silva is another clown who brought terrible shame to the judiciary. All these proves my point, War Crimes Investigations should be conducted by International panel of judges. It will take a long time to bring honesty, responsibility and accountability to the Sri Lankan judiciary.

  • 5
    1

    I am a patriotic lawyer, who is dead against bringing foreign Judges for any matter concerning our Motherland.

    But I when I read this Article I feel that I cannot justify my stand for flawed judgments made by our own judges backed up by the Attorney General himself.

    Now I sense that this is only a tip of the iceberg and much more will come to light in near future.

    • 4
      1

      priyath

      “I am a patriotic lawyer, who is dead against bringing foreign Judges for any matter concerning our Motherland.”

      Many are cheating themselves calling it ‘patriotism’. If so for any matter you should use ONLY Sri Lankan resources. Including medical treatment. Education to your children, when they cannot enter the University then they should remain in Sri Lanka and get educated enrolling in one of the vast number of so called ‘campuses’ found on top of shops. Even for employment, never leave Sri Lanka for foreign employment for better emoluments, but stay back to serve your nation with the salary Sri Lanka can afford. Then if strictly abide by utilizing ‘Sri Lankan resources’ ONLY, then I will call you being patriotic in your meaning of patriotism.

      One day you, or your loved ones may have to seek justice and then you should accept Sri Lankan justice and then do not complain. Many behave differently when problem strikes them.

      Further being a lawyer haven’t you studied there could be a conflict of interests, when it comes to investigating war crimes as any Sri Lankan judge, Sinhala or Tamil has personal vested interests. So that it denies such a person due from the basics of natural justice not to sit in judgment of a case when you are also have relationships to either party to the conflict. Further especially with the judiciary so exposed, war crimes investigation by local judges will not be recognized as a ‘fair trial’. If so do not have any trial and waste valuable time, effort and money.

  • 8
    1

    Well done Mr Kodituwakku it was because of your tenacious efforts that this long drawn out case has seen the light of day. Don’t stop with this ensure that the case is seen to it’s end on the 3rd of Dec.
    Sri Lanka needs more people like you. Please proceed to unearth more legal tangles like this and fix the lot. The public is with you.

  • 7
    1

    Congratulations Mr.Kodituwakku!Well done. Wish you would take the next step as well to bring the culprit to the book for abuse of office.
    A few more lawyers of this calibre can easily rid this country of corruption as it is the corrupt lawyers who fester the country with corruption.

  • 7
    1

    Should we not appoint this public spirited determined lawyer to one of the Independent Commissions to uphold virtue in the country.

    Well done.

    We are truly grateful

  • 5
    1

    Mr. Kodithuakku: Well done and congratulations. This country needs people of your caliber, NOT those who are awaiting to get the “Dual Citizenship” and “CROWN” once again the ROUGES. This Mohan Peiris, the ex CJ who was “sent in” to the Supreme Courts through the “back door” must be taken to task and he would definitely go on record as the “second most” disgraceful man to hold that position. anyway, some more are due to happen. Please await. Let this be an ‘eye opener” for those who carry the “Heavy” burden of “Chinthanaya”.

  • 4
    1

    Nagananda Kodituwakku.

    Plato salutes you.We need more people like you!

  • 4
    0

    nagananda should not have withdrawn the case against the corruption cmmssn.If they can do the right thing only after a case is filed against them, then they are not trustworthy at all and mohan peiris will escape.

    clean the broom first.

  • 2
    0

    How is it that this Company gets away by paying a fine? Don’t they deserve some jail time?

    • 0
      0

      Very right Mevan,
      The Dockyard top run is equally guilty of initiating the deal to cheat the government. They should be brought to Dock.
      Can anyone enlighten the readers who the top run were of Dockyard at the time.
      People of this country needs to know who these culprits are.

  • 1
    0

    Colombo Telegraph too should be congratulated for the relentless exposure of this case.

    David.
    I AGREE 100%,but go a little further.In view of this Judgement it is Shavindra Fernando who should be debarred from practice!

  • 0
    0

    Well done ‘Nagi’, keep up the good work but take it easy.

  • 1
    0

    The Supreme court and Court of Appeal are full of Rajapaksa loyalists.Most of them were appointed over the heads of senior persons and therefore are shamelessly obliged to Mahinda.Only Sisira de Abrew and newly appointed Chitrasiri could be described as independent judges in the Supreme court.Even though CJ Sripawan does not owe his appointment to the Rajapaksa regime,he is laid back and timid.

  • 1
    0

    While I applaud the efforts of Mr.Kodituwakku and these activities are so basically wrong and so menacing to our institutions that every citizen and particularly every public official and other attorneys should oppose them to the limit of their strength.
    The sad part is many remain silent for their immediate perks.

  • 0
    0

    Nagananda Kodituwakku,

    I salute you. You are one hell of a brave man. Stand tall and keep it up.

    Don’t give up on the corrupt and fraudulent ‘National List’ MP and Cabinet Minister’s appointment case. One day you will win. ‘Maru Sira’ must be sent packing the same way we did with MARA.

  • 0
    0

    “To my knowledge, the information published in the paper is incorrect. Dockyard filed action against customs and proved that all taxes have been paid. Even Customs inquiry was decided Dockyard has NOT defaulted any Duty or taxes and the tax paid at the inception before the inquiry started was correct. “

  • 0
    0

    What Hemantha, probably lawyer who defend the Dockyard Ltd says is absolutely untrue and misleading. If the Dockyard paid all levies why should the company pay a penalty of 10 million rupees.

    I believe people have every right to know the complete truth about this massive fraud and people should thank CT for its commitment in this regard.

    I was a member in the Customs investigating team and I can clearly say that Colombo Dockyard Ltd never paid levies until the fraud was detected.

    Customs Inquiry into this massive fraud was first commenced on 07-02-2002 and under the then DGC Jayathilake it was just a sham inquiry. On 05th March 2004 DGC Jayathilake granted Dockyard Ltd a tax amnesty and closed the case.

    However, 09-02-2005 the head of the investigation team, Mr T R Ratnasiri, challenged this tax amnesty in the Court of Appeal (CA/1397/2004) forcing the DGC Jayathilake to withdraw the tax amnesty and give an undertaking to Court on 09th Feb 2005 to complete the Customs inquiry ‘as expeditiously as possible’

    Yet, the undertaking given to court by the DGC was never honoured until Dockyard challenged the Customs Inquiry on 29th Aug 2005 in the Court of Appeal [Colombo Dockyard Ltd v DGC – CA/1413/2005] on the basis that Customs is not empowered to invoke the provisions of the Customs Ordinance in respect of defrauding of other levies (GST, TT, NSL and Stamp Duty).

    This case dragged in the Court for over 4 years and on 27th April 2009 the Court made an absolutely flawed ruling prohibiting the Customs from recovering any levy other than the Customs duties and the said Order also contained a flawed clause that even the customs duty defrauded by the Company could be recovered without imposing penalties.

    This is the order that Mohan Peiris refused to challenge but Solicitor General Priayasath Dep Challenged in the Supreme Court (SC/SLA/100/2009), which Mohan Peiris withdrew on 30th Aug against the clear written instructions given against the withdrawal on 03rd Aug 2010 by the then DGC Sudarma Karunarathna with the following statement in her letter addressed to Mohan Peiris.

    ‘… Considering the colossal revenue loss involving in the case, the withdrawal of the matter before the Supreme Court was inappropriate…’

    In fact that Mohan Peiris had the audacity to send a ‘backdated letter’ after the withdrawal of the case on 30th Aug 2010. The said letter was dated 26th Aug 2010 and ‘hand delivered’ to the DGC on 31st Aug 2010.

    The whole purpose of the said letter was to demonstrate that the DGC has been duly informed about the ‘intended action before the withdrawal of the Appeal’. However, the Customs ‘Date Stamp’ and the minutes and observations made by the DGC and the others reveal that the said letter is delivered to Customs only on 31st August 2010.

    Yet, when Mohan Peiris’s fraudulent conduct was challenged by Mr T R Ratnasiri in the Supreme Court (SCFR/536/2010)supported by Lawyer Nagananda Kodituwakku the DGC Sudarama Karuanrathna in very clear terms informed the Supreme Court that AG Mohan Peiris’s letter dated 26th Aug 2010 was received at her office only after the Supreme Court leave to appeal application was withdrawn by the DSG on 30th Aug 2010.

    We believe that Mohan Peiris is directly responsible for causing a tremendous damage to the tax collection efforts of the Customs Department and he would probably go to history as the worst cheat who destroyed the integrity of the office of the Attorney General and the Chief Justice.

  • 0
    0

    This Naganda kodituwakku Had filed a writ application before Court of appeal against Bribery commission. the same case was dismissed by the Court of appeal on the basis that it had no jurisdiction to try a writ application agaisnt BC. the Bribery commission’s act no 19 of 1994 clearly says that the writ against Bribery commission shall be filed in the supreme court. this lawyer doesn’t know this simple fact even if brings big cases.

  • 0
    0

    People should be honest enough to give credit to those who deserve it.

    It seems Dockyard and Mohan Peiris buddies are really upset and angry about the Customs Dockyard case Order and the on going investigation against Mohan Peiris initiated by the Corruption Commission and firm and unwavering stand of the Lawyer Kodituwakku.

    I am also a lawyer practicing in the Hulfsdorp. Recently President Counsel Prasantha De Alwis filed a case before the Supreme Court against the Election Commission. The appointment of the Commissioner is now comes under the Constitutional Council and there had been a change made to the Office.

    Therefore, Prasantha de Alwis not allowed to support his Petition and urged to amend the Petition and support it. When Lawyer Kodituwakku filed the case against the Election Commission in the Court of Appeal same direction was given to him by the Court. By then the Writ Jurisdiction held with the Supreme Court had been transferred to Supreme Court accordingly the Court advised him to withdraw the Application and filed it is the Supreme Court which he had done.

    As Lord Buddha taught, if any one claims that he knows everything he is the laughing stock, people should be honest enough to admit that they do make mistakes and willing to change accordingly.

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