22 June, 2021

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Fight For CJ Without A “Pro People” Judiciary Helps Rajapaksa

By Kusal Perera

Kusal Perera

On 20 November (2012) afternoon, a fair gathering of people at the badly neglected Colombo Public Library, gave that old black and white look of an art gallery photograph. Grey haired, bald and elderly men on stage argued against the impeachment now being taken up by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to decide on charges levelled against the Chief Justice (CJ). The audience, brought together by a group of city based trade unions for this public meeting, looking equally ancient, but was determined the impeachment should be defeated. The speakers argued their case quite well, and proved the impeachment was morally, legally, constitutionally and democratically wrong and should not be allowed to have its passage through parliament. A good case, they established.

The meeting had one very conspicuous lapse though, to put it mildly. The youth, the young generation that should take up the fight for the future, was almost absent with only a very negligible presence of women too. The audience was not one of a broad social representation. That added up to a question raised by another from the audience at the conclusion of the meeting. “All this is fine” he said and asked, “What all the arguments and explanations implied is, Rajapaksa would have his way. They never indicated what should be done ?” So the important question is “Critic and analysis is good, but what next ?”

This goes with all what was written to date on the impeachment, including interventions and comments on “FaceBook” and e-mail chains. They were all good and strong arguments to say the impeachment is and attempt to wrongfully remove the incumbent Chief Justice and politically control the judiciary. Yes it is. But it is one that can not be left as a campaign to save the Chief Justice. It has to be a campaign to save the judiciary. It should not stop at shouting hoarse to save the CJ, but go on to demand judicial reforms to have an independent, pro people judiciary. That seems the absent part in all of these segmented campaigns and protests.

The towel has already been thrown in, it looks, with the Rajapaksa regime declared the winner. Not merely because they have a steam rolling majority in parliament, but because the Opposition is clearly compromising on any and everything the regime wants. All decisions so far taken regarding the PSC proceedings has gone the way the regime wants, with the Opposition representation in it, consenting though at times with mild reservations. The time frames set, the refusal to grant the CJ her request for time to present her submissions, refusal by the Speaker and the PSC in accepting the judicial advice to defer PSC sittings till the Supreme Court determines on the petition before it, referred to by the Appeal Court, have all gone the way the Rajapaksa regime decides, with the Opposition timidly agreeing to fall in line with the government majority.

Thus all previous calculations (including my own assessment) on how the PSC impeachment process would get dragged on, at least till March 2013, now seems pretty much miscalculated. Ranil Wickramasinghe who was also initially calculating for long sessions, now goes with the Rajapaksa schedule in wrapping up everything in a month or so. So have the TNA and the JVP represented in the PSC. They end up giving the regime what it wants to do with the PSC without any serious and active dissent that can be seen by the public and boost the pro judiciary campaign outside.

This accommodation of the regime by the Opposition is not only with the PSC. It is how the Opposition actually play politics with this regime. None seem to defy the Rajapaksas in parliament, even on other important issues. That was the case with the Budget and the Divi Neguma Bill too. The Budget for 2013 was challenged for its provisions in handling public funds and was determined as against the Constitution by the Supreme Court that directed 03 proposals to be amended before the Second Reading is taken up. Neither the UNP leadership as the Opposition Leader, nor the TNA and the JVP, bothered to take that up, when the original budget was up for the Second Reading. Why did not the Opposition refuse to participate in the debate ? They had a social obligation to refuse participation in a budget debate that is not in line with the Constitution. So had the JVP too. But that was not how the Opposition acted.

The UNP leadership and some of their MPs did murmur few things from outside parliament for the media to carry. But not in parliament. In parliament they debated and voted at the Second Reading, allowing the same non amended budget to go through the final reading during the next week or two. So did the JVP that otherwise cries foul over anything by the Rajapaksas. The TNA may have been advised from Delhi, not to throw a spanner in their way, as they are “trying for the umpteenth time” to convince this Rajapaksa regime to agree on a serious devolution package. What ever the reason(s) may be, all in the Opposition have agreed to keep the parliament functioning, the way this regime wants.

In such adverse and frustrating context, the next best thing that should have developed is a strong, independent “people’s movement” that stands for serious judicial reforms. Strong enough to challenge the Opposition’s compromise with this R regime as well. Most unfortunately that potential is also absent in the protests that can be heard. If one maps the class and geographical presence of these protest campaigns to date, geographically it is horribly restricted to the Colombo city. Not even to the Colombo district. The only protests so far were in Hulftsdorf and once at the Public Library hall. A few provincial Bar Associations that met initially and the unanimous resolutions adopted by the Bar Association of SL, are all things of the past. They were any way a membership gathering of a single profession and not a public intervention. Even lawyers in Courts other than those in Hulftsdorf, in Mt. Lavinia, Kaduwela and Gangodawila have no part in any of the campaigns organised by the activists in Hulftsdorf. That leaves all satellite towns around Colombo and the other few major cities, almost oblivion to what’s happening in the Hulftsdorf Hill and within the Diyawanna Sanctuary.

Its class nature is also very apparent with the city upper middle class, dropping their ethnic politics to rally against the impeachment against the CJ. One now sees long time Sinhala campaigners like S.L Gunasekera and pro devolution activists like Jayampathy Wickramaratne together against the impeachment and a learned advisor to the Rajapaksa regime like Gomin Dayasri reluctantly and ambiguously talking against the impeachment. Discussions and statements were all Colombo city centred and by upper middle class personalities. It is clearly the upper middle class urban constituency that has got activated, for it is they who feel the need to have a judiciary independent of politicking. And, they have turned it into the academic exercise, they are more familiar with.

This leaves out the vast majority who should actually get mobilised to have not only an independent judiciary, but also an efficient and a clean judiciary. In 2010 November, reading out his 2011 budget speech, President Rajapaksa said, “A prolonged delay in legal disputes is one such cause for poverty. There are approximately 650,000 unsettled legal cases before our judiciary pending justice.” He promised an allocation of 400 million rupees in total to remedy this issue of “pending justice”. He also promised, he would allocate 150 million rupees for 2011 and the Ministry of Justice was to immediately set up 60 new courts with retired Judges to address this issue. What has come of it, is not been discussed even during this budget debate.

Thus it is not ONLY an issue of judicial independence that now needs to be taken up. But also that of a clean and an efficient judiciary to serve the people. The plight of those many thousands who daily linger around the Courts, spending their hard earned money, needs to be taken up with that of an independent judiciary. It is definitely a very long wait for justice, if it comes at all and in between that long wait, the ordinary people are also fleeced, not only by touts, but also by some hard bargaining lawyers. The whole system is corrupt and warped. Therefore today, while the need of an independent judiciary is more an upper middle class urban discourse, the majority of the common people would want an efficient and a clean judiciary. The fact is, an independent judiciary is only a fore runner to an efficient and clean judiciary that a country should have.

The impeachment against the CJ therefore allows much space for a more complete discourse and a campaign for judicial reforms that should include the slogan “efficient and a clean judiciary”. It is such a slogan that would allow for a broad social support base, but was lost due to this very narrow approach of the city campaigners and the compromising Opposition. It is not the strength of this Rajapaksa regime that keeps it afloat, but the supportive winds of the Opposition that leaves it roaming around. It is also the short sighted Sinhala outlook of the urban middle class that kept most what the regime did all this while, justified. Well, there isn’t a decent, intellectual “Left” discourse either to galvanise any futuristic thinking in society for now. That’s what this impeachment is all about.

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Latest comments

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    This grey haired ancient looking old man seeks to justify the unjust by saying it is a part a greater campaign to have a clean and efficieent judiciary. What then has this Govt done for the last seven years? Balming the CJ fro the inefficiency and corrupt practices of the Govt is not acceptable.

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    We have a Leader of the “opposition” who is concerned only about being the Leader of the Opposition for ever.He is not concerned about the regime’s acts to subvert democracy or the Constittuyion.Very siin he might be thrown out of his leadership as most of his supporters like the cwe baron and the other grandfathers disappear and the younger ones desert him

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    Mr Perera you just talk and talk. We don’t see ypu in action. At least the gentlemen you criticise do something, although it may not be enough. I wonder whether you are a sheep in wolf’s (readn MR’s) clothing. I have followed your writings. You are anti-everything.

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      kama
      We don’t know about you, but we’ve seen Mr Perera in action during CBK time doing morning radio shows for peace thavalams by awalams. May be, right now he is busy doing his part of the job in the team ‘judicial coup’.

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      Its Obvious Kamal. There had been nothing right since Independance to support. What you have failed to read in this article, Kusal is not just opposing. He has proposed a far reaching alternative also. That is not been discussed in these comments.
      Instead people like, Leela (male or female) who does not give any indication of his/her identity, goes after other people’s identities and past activities, to prove what I don’t know. But exposes the racist, spiteful mindset within him/her.
      Amarnath

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    “650,000 unsettled legal cases”!!
    The proposed 60 new courts are necessary,but, the daily workload necessary by/from each judge,with more hours, must be defined and enforced.
    Else,only lawyers will benefit,and not the litigants.
    A system of appointing state sponsored/paid lawyers for indigent litigants,like in other countries is very necessary.
    Courthouses must be redesigned to allow defendants and accused to be seated with counsel and while testifying,and the judge coming down to just above ground level,like in courthouses in other democracies, are necessary to make citizens feel that they are being treated as equals.

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    It is exactly the same muti-colored crowd that backed SF then are now rally around the CJ. Like the days they backed SF they have come to so many conclusions this time as well.

    All of them have concluded the innocence of CJ even before her son wrote his way of defense in an article written in his face book page on behalf of his mother. The same naive lot expected people to join Haltsdorf sharks, fill the streets and march to temple trees and topple the government like in Pakistan. But people know that this lot would abandon CJ the same way they abandoned SF. People know that they have just one aim; get rid of Rajapakses and make this country a Libya.

    We don’t want the west to appoint some separatist jackass to ruin our hard won freedom period
    Leela

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      Leela:Quote” get rid of Rajapakses and make this country a Libya.”Unquote
      So reluctantly you finally admit like Libya.

      Not so soon. When the “time is right” not the horror-scope of yours or MR- take good care birdie num,none.

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        Leela is a twisted mind.
        Dont follow hers. she has been like that very many times sofar. She does not knwo what she is writing about. Nor has she attached any references to prove hers as facts. Really disgusting.

        She is welcome no where. Neither in UK nor Srilanka. Poor Leelawardhana or Leela, seems to be trying to leave a red herring always has been the same. May be she will be posted to somewhere soon – as it is the case for many of the ex sl army officers. I believe her skills could match well – for a diplmatic position -why not her if a tea taster can become today´s srilanken ambassador to the US. … but we also need to check whether is the blood related to MR… he he ..

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    I often wonder if the Sinhala people have inherited some defective genes that have mutated over the last generation or so and manifested itself in helping to become socially destructive.

    People from Sri Lanka now travel so often to foreign countries that were lagging so far behind a generation or two ago, which are so far ahead of us in social development (including political culture, social behaviour and interpersonal relationships)that it defies belief our people have not learnt anything, instead feeding selfishly on an almost dead carcass for whatever it is worth, and to hell with the future!

  • 0
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    Probably Leela didn’t get a Lap Top

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      Heard leela is going to get married to Mervin soon – :)

      That is going to be a great match – because Mervin is said to be step brother of MR – and the boy that had been mistreated by MR^s parents at that time. However, all these could come out soon – so MR has to let him dance on the street, as he likes it. No matter the nation could be weary of all these, MR would not even utter a single word against FILTHY MOUTHED MERVIN.

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    Leela is a Rajapkse stooge.

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    Is there Justice in Sri Lanka. The rule of law is choked not only by politicians but by lawyers and the police as well. Lawyers live by ‘dates’ at the cost of poor litigants.According to MP Karu Jayasuriya only 4 percent of criminal cases end up with conviction whereas in India it is around 75 percent and in Europe it is as high as around 95 percent. The whole system is rotten to the core.

    The present anti impeachment movement is more to do with politics than with the defense of the rule of law.
    When we talk of the “Rule of Law” it is also pertinent to ask the question ‘whose law?”. What we are confronted with today is the law of JR and the UNP.

    I agree with what Leela has said.

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    All the blame on the opposition is like slapping someone and then blaming him for having his head in the way of your hand. We see this kind of convoluted logic at Police Stations and Courts too. Supporters also use this tactic with the Opposition to deflect blame on the government. Amazingly, this all seems to work with the Sri Lankan public.

    Even on this impeachment, without focusing at what the government is doing wrong, the author finds some way to pin the blame on the opposition. I hope the attentive readers will not only identify these instances but also call them out. May be when these lame attempts are being exposed right away they will cease. Focus can be put on the real problem.

    Everyone seems to know what is WRONG! Above is a small suggestion from me that will hopefully help in making it RIGHT!

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    The people need be educated, knowledge is power. We need to know the real politics at home and abroad. If we only educate ourselves about the local crooks, we may fooled by the foreigners.

    The Western Countries are committing crimes against the developing countries, but the developing countries’ leaders are committing crimes against their own people. The crimes committed by the Westerners are huge, but it seems lesser crimes, because when we commit crimes against our own people it will look more uglier and evil than westerners’ crimes. The Westerners are well aware of this fact, and playing their cards accordingly. We can’t compare the Westerners crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Sri Lankans’ crimes. Sri lankans have been committing crimes against their own people since 1948. We must steer the country into the right path, educate others to respect and value their own people, this is the only way to counterattack the Westerners’ smart game.

    Sri Lankans have been suffering since 1948. Now is the time to get the country from the corrupt and foolish politicians. Sri Lankan’s deserve better, the Sri Lankans have removed the unelected terrorists, now is the time to remove the elected (or self elected) terrorists. The country is halfway through to its freedom. I believe the Sri Lankans intellectuals have the ability to remove the Rajapaksa regime. Now is the time to remove the leaders who rip off their motherland, enough is enough. The corrupted, self-centered, and ignored politicians had the country since 1948. Now is the time to get it back. The Sinhalese people are starting to wake-up. I really do not believe Rajapaksa regime can fool the Sinhalese for decades as the LTTE fooled the Tamils. Rajapaksa regime is fooling the Sinhalese that Sri Lanks is going to be wonder of Asia and knowledge hub, as the LTTE fooled the Tamils that they will get Eelam. We all know that Sri Lanka has the highest percentage of brain drain in Asia. Currently the education and justice system are going down. This proves Sri Lanka will never become the wonder of Asia or knowledge hub of Asia. The Rajapaksa regime is demonising the Westerners and Sri lankan diaspora to cover-up its failures. The Westerners are only 8% of the world population, therefore the West will do its best to divide others to rule the world. Having said that, the West has improved a lot in civilisation (at least the westerners have evolved enough to respect and value their own people). There are many things we can learn from the Westerners. We need leaders who can think and act perspectivally, not like robots with inability to think.

    The UNP member said to the Sunday Observer that “the United National Party had governed Sri Lanka for over 30 years since Independence in different terms and led by a number of leaders. It was a formidable political force founded by D.S. Senanayake in 1946 with the support of all community leaders of yesteryear.”
    I disagree with the UNP. The UNP has ruled Sri Lanka for more than 30 years, but did not govern. If it has govern the country the Tamils would not had fallen into India’s trick and took up arms against the government. I really believe that now is the time to create a new political party and remove the old mindset and ideology. The SLFP and UNP have proved for decades that they do not have the ability to govern. If the UNP got elected again, they will bring the old mindset and ideology, which has been unproductive and useless for decades. Time for the Sri Lankan intellectuals to start a new political party and remove the foolish, useless and unproductive leaders from the power.

    Conclusion: If you are well ahead in civilisation means that you commit crimes against other races, especially against the developing countries to have your way. If you are behind in civilisation means that you commit crimes against your own people to have your way. When you commit crimes against your own people your crimes looks more evil that others’ crimes. Therefore, if you want to be perceived committing lesser crimes follow the Westerners.

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