‘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.
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 Apparently it was a failed attempt by Mohan Pieris to give the impression that the said case was withdrawn with the consent of the DGC.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to the Supreme Court wherein the Court had been informed that the letter had been delivered only after the case was withdrawn.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.