24 February, 2021

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Judiciary Must Be Respected By Both Citizens & Government

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

Protecting from Public Insult

We, in Australia and the West, have learnt to have the highest respect for the judiciary. Judges in court perform duties of the highest order. Upon the judiciary our liberties and our rights as citizens rest. The judiciary is the pinnacle of justice for everyone.

At the level of individual citizens, this utmost responsibility is safeguarded by the law relating to contempt of court. Nobody can make utterance or act in a way that can be taken to imply contempt of court.

Member of parliament Ranjan Ramanayake has just paid the penalty over charges of contempt of court. He will be behind bars for four long years. Ranjan’s penchant for exposing public corruption has been much admired by the public despite the controversial ways he had got “information.” He had shown a ruthless fearlessness in this regard. However, he exhibited foolhardiness in going a mile further to charge our judges as being corrupt. With no evidence in his command, Ranjan’s accusation turned into mudslinging and the MP was confirmed as having been guilty of contempt charges.

The Role of Government

The judiciary must be protected not only from public insult; the most important and fundamental source of protection must come from the government. This is done by a myriad of ways:govt members not interfering with judges directly and indirectly, govt not flouting orders of court; and government carrying out certain healthy practices.

Govt must, above all, ensure that the best selections for vacancies in the judiciary are made impartially and with no semblance of political consideration. This action on the part of the the govt of the day enables the public to have respect and collective esteem for our judges. It is the public perception that Sri Lankan governments have been negligent of this wider responsibilty of ensuring a judiciary of high quality. Perception is important and this is why the old adage: “Justice must not only be done but must manifestly appear to be done,” is valid for all time and everywhere.

Practices

Furthermore, we have had instances of bad practice on the part of the government. A Chief Justice had been unceremoniously and illegally evicted by parliament at the behest of government. Promotions and transfers have also been questioned. The yahapalanaya government, to its credit, introduced independent constitutional commissions to make appointments to high office of the judiciary and we had four years of minimal political interference. With such arrangements, public respect for our judges soared;while at the same time judges grew in selfconfidence to perform their sacrosanct duties.

Wider Justice System

There is another aspect: the whole justice system includes more than the judges. It covers the actions of the Attorney General,too. The AG must be seen to be above board in directing the cases to be brought before the judges. The public perception has suffered here,too. As a matter of fact, the police are also part of the wider set known as the judicial system. Political interference in the ranks of the police force is dismally high.

The constitutional position of the Attorney General needs review. In Australia, the AG is a minister of cabinet rank. This gives him a clout. In Sri Lanka the AG is really the chief Public Prosecutor and he heads a government department under a minister.

Conclusion

Thus, the protection of our judiciary has to be twofold,namely, from the individual citizen and,perhaps more fundamentally, from the President,government and the political system. The two are intertwined in effect.

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Latest comments

  • 44
    0

    To expect respect for judiciary from citizens is next to impossible.
    Judges who keep on extending remand to victims of political witch hunt. Supreme court judges who do not give reasons to deny leave to proceed. Supreme court judges who do not take fundamental rights cases for years. How can you expect respect from citizens. All the supreme court judges are no different from from Nandasena whom they are mortally scared of
    They too behave like street thugs like Nandasena.
    AG who withdraws the case on the insistence of Nandasena a criminal who killed a parliamentarian while the latter was praying does not deserve respect. He should have the least resigned.
    The 6.3 million fools and 157 Parliamentarians who voted in favor of 20A should kill themselves if they have conscience

  • 33
    0

    The judges can only be respected only and only if they exhibit their integrity both within and out side the walls of the courts. How can we respect judges if they are wolves in sheep’s’ clothing? In Sri Lanka this has proven that some of the judges in the judiciary are corrupt and bend themselves before the politicians.

    The respect has to be earned and its not an attribute. So the judges in Sri Lanka should first check their conscience before delivering the judgements and not only the conviction but also sentencing. Both these components call for the integrity and if they cannot do that job then they should f…off.

  • 21
    0

    What if contempt for the Judiciary is actually justified?
    Who has the intellectual capacity and moral courage to answer that question?

    • 8
      0

      One who had that courage is behind bars.Truly disgraceful. We must allow judges from UK,just like Hong Kong is doing at this moment. China is very clever to bring confidence to investors or people who trade with them to show that they honest, lawful as we expect it to be.Sadly they have to be ruthless to put the country right, taking no nonsense.We all have to learn from them.I get a feeling that Trump might invest there as the fundamentals for running as business is good.
      West foolishly demonize the communist party who put people in the right track in a ruthless manner and the end justify the means.
      If it is so bad how come euntrepderers

  • 35
    1

    The whole country knows Ranjan was sentenced because he ruffled the feathers of the powerful by exposing their crimes – including those of the monks who abused child monks. What happened to him is the real contempt of court. Is this kind of injustice what Nandasena meant when he said, “I’m ready for anything” ?

  • 26
    0

    Ranjan Ramanayake has had Contempt FOR COURT, like a good many citizens.

    But the Judges have ruled that it is Contempt OF COURT!

  • 28
    0

    For any Judiciary to be respected the judgements given by the courts should not only be correct but also should be accepted as correct and an equitable judgement in the eyes of the citizens of the country. There is no doubt that most Sri Lankans, based on the past judgements given by the courts do not see that the court decisions are correct and equitable. How can citizens then respect the judiciary?

    Similarly the present Attorney General’s actions also are not seen as acceptable or equitable by the citizens of the country.

    May be the time is ripe for a mechanism to be setup where with the participation of foreign judges to review the decisions given by the higher courts in SL and give their opinion. This could be done by the Justice Minister or even by an international body such as UN Human Rights Commission.

  • 37
    1

    Ranjan withheld information and he goes to prison for 4 years.

    Pillayan and Karuna – senior LTTE members massacred innocent civilians, soldiers and 600 surrendered policemen. They both get cabinet positions.

    KP Pathmanathan – sole illegal arms dealer of the LTTE, gets STF protection and lives in luxury in Colombo.

    Daya master – senior advisor to the LTTE lives the same lifestyle as KP in Colombo.

    Douglas Devananda – serial killer who has been accused of murdering so many civilians, sits in the parliament.

    Wimal Weerawansa – ex-JVP killer sits in the parliament.

    Sarath Fonseka fought the war and he went to jail.

    Many army murderers and rapists are released from prison.

    Many more!!!!

    There is only one family that is responsible for all the carnage above………………the Rajapaksas.

  • 15
    0

    Post independance the Judiciary and it’s authority is declining rapidly.
    Politicians of all hues are the main cause for this.

    The very people that are elected to uphold justice are making a making a mockery of it.

  • 20
    0

    Even though I can be persuaded to accept Mr Jayasinghe’s premise that the judiciary must be respected, and even though it is clear that Ranjan Ramanayake’s comment was why too general, each of us is free to have an opinion about the harshness of the sentence.

    I believe that four year’s of RI is way over the top. The judges seem to have been motivated more by a sense of pique than by the need to do and “to be seen to be doing” justice. (Ha! Can I too now be hauled up for contempt? Do I have a right to disagree with a judgement and to say so in public?)

    With many exceptions, I too am of the view that some judges in Sri Lanka do not inspire confidence and are political creatures. RR’s fault was that he failed to qualify his remarks in this manner and made an unjustified blanket allegation condemning the entire judiciary. My father and grandfather were judges who did not compromise their honour, so believe me I have no desire to besmirch the judiciary in general.

    • 7
      1

      eeakdavi.

      Prof: Kumar David a regular columnist on these pages had a father who was a member of the Judiciary, in a bygone era when the Judiciary was respected, even by those who were convicted!

    • 9
      0

      It was two years for SB Dissanayake for defaming the SC & judges.
      I think that RR’s statement was rather sweeping. He could have learned from SBD’s experience.
      Gnanasara misbehaved in court and was handed 6 years RI but later granted a Presidential pardon.

  • 26
    3

    Ranjan Ramanayake was sentenced, Pilliyan was released. Why? Ranjan talked about corruption in judiciary but Pilliyan was released because he followed orders of Rajapakse family.
    Lasantha was murdered because he talked about corruption in big armed deal by the former Defence secretary but Gnanarasa was released because he was involved with the attack on Muslims.
    Karuna was released and offered ministerial post because he killed 600 Sinhala forces and attacked Daladha maligawa but Sarath Fonseka was jailed for contesting election against Rajapakse.
    Who are the real enemies of Buddhism and Srilanka?
    Does 6.9 million Buddhist Sinhala love Sri Lanka or Love Rajapakse family?

    • 5
      0

      Ajith.

      Most appropriate Question!
      It is not only Sinhala Buddhists even Karuna and Pillaiyan are in love!

    • 7
      1

      Ajith

      “Who are the real enemies of Buddhism and Srilanka?”

      The Sinhala/Buddhists.

      “Does 6.9 million Buddhist Sinhala love Sri Lanka or Love Rajapakse family?”

      Neither.
      Sinhala/Buddhists (6.9 Million) hopes and believes Rajapakse clan given enough chances would liberate the (physical land) island from non Sinhala/Buddhists and then equitably distribute it among the Sinhala/Buddhists, and let them have total control over the state resources and state functionaries.

      Rajapakses wouldn’t have it.

  • 3
    2

    There are “TWO” more cases of this type coming up. (1) The case against Dr. Padeniya and (2) Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya. Let us wait and see how these two cases proceed and what the outcome would be.Ranjan or any other must be conscious of the law of the land and how that operates. Just be blind to these facts and depending purely on public perception is not going to help. This is the net result of not exercising due care and be conscious of the results of your own outburst in public, especially when you are a public figure. From the beginning, I knew of his “Immaturity” as a politician, and the things he did and the behavior were not in keeping with what expected of an honorable and responsible social leader. This is a good lesson to young and immature leaders who get deceived by the “Cheer Leaders”. Now nothing can be done. He has to suffer the consequences of his own chosen behavior.

    • 4
      0

      I feel sorry for him for telling the truth and I am sure one day he will excel and the wrong doers will not escape justice. There are very powerful people in the world who have honestly made their money wants a better world run by honest people. If it had happened to Trump then others are not far behind. Though I am a very honest business person, I have to account for my rightfully be made money and declare my assets and my earnings.

  • 3
    4

    Ajith
    There is no public outcry by the Sinhalese (like me) to punish Karuna and Pilleyan, though they are fully aware of the heinous crimes they committed, on the belief that they helped defeat LTTE in the end. That is bringing a 30 year war to an end.
    Tamils (like you) loath them on the same reason – they helped defeat LTTE in the end though they were admired at the time those crimes were committed.
    Even in law an accused in a gang violence case turns state witness to assist prosecution in return for leniency.
    That is life.

    Soma

    • 0
      0

      soman

      “There is no public outcry by the Sinhalese (like me) to punish Karuna and Pilleyan,”

      Normal human beings do expect condemnation from descent Sinhalese however we do not expect any noise, loud or meek from Sinhala/Buddhist fascists.

  • 13
    1

    Jayasinghe from your trenchant defence of the indefensible for years , that rascal Ranil W , we can see , although living in Australia, you are different , not really Australian.

    After the people reduced the UNP to zero, you went quiet. RW you would have learnt continues as leader of UNP. Those are his standards and may be yours.

    In Australia you have the protection of the law( the courts) so enjoy it.

    But never say you are Australain or have understood their values. You don’t , and you really cannot.

    Like a American politician once said races( blacks and white) are equal but different. Your genes and Ranil’s genes can never be Western. So don’t talk of Western models to brown skins.

    By defending Ranil in that manner you stood for hypocrisy of Sri Lankan elitism . RWs bogus career has made it possible for the Rajapakse hell , the religious nonsense to emerge( not only Buddhist but also Muslim ) and the false pretences of liberalism by so called courts of justice to flourish.( they wear the same black clothes that lawyers in UK and Australia wear ! ! )

    Anything looks good compared to Ranil’s pompous, hypocritical and dishonest politics.The rest followed . RW has led the main political party in this country for 30 years. Now it has died

  • 9
    0

    Judges too are greedy as politicians. First they should have dignity to get respected. Former CJ’s have already set examples, what more do we need as proof. There’s no empathy in their judgements, but just what dictated to them by the Heads.

  • 10
    0

    Its time Ranjan releases all the recordings, documents and information that are in his possession on politicians, judges and lawyers to the public.

  • 9
    0

    Shyamon, there is no way that citizens having clear conscience, can respect the present day Judges, specially appointed by the foolish dictator Nandasena. These 3 judges, Abrew, Malalgoda and Surasena, can not be treated differently to Disgraced Judge Lenin Ratnayake who sextually abused wives of two convicts. Presidents starting from Chandrika who appointed Sarath Nanda de Silva(while being the AG he took the side of Lenin Ratnayake) as the CJ should take the responsibility for bringing the country to this abysmal state .

  • 10
    0

    For the judiciary to be respected it has to earn it. Sri Lankan judiciary has not earned it. I don’t think anyone will say the that the judiciary never had respect. At one time it had respect within and outside the country, then came the political influence that that corrupted the system. Next came appointments purely based on influence and not merit.

  • 12
    1

    Ranjan Ramanayake, in a crude or raw manner, is Sri Lanka’s equivalent to a Martin Luther King Jnr or even a sort of Nelson Mandela or if allowed to live a long natural life, even an equivalent in some aspects to what Mahatma Gandhi or his close associates did in India. They all suffered injustice and were jailed for raising the ire of the powerful when they spoke truth to power. The puny officials who enact the diktat of the power elite should hang their heads in shame, while the public must rise in one voice against injustice. Otherwise the contention that the law is there merely to protect the powerful from the united weak will always stand.

    • 1
      4

      Martin Luther King
      Mahathma Gandhi
      Nelson Mandela
      Where is Jesus Christ?

      Soma

      • 2
        0

        soman

        “Where is Jesus Christ?”

        Are you planning to be the born again second coming?

    • 1
      0

      Falling into a well in the thick of the night is one thing. You can blame the one who dug the well, if you will.
      Jumping into a well in broad day light with thousand cameras focussed is a little bit different. Charge of polluting drinking water is unavoidable, however genuine or innocent the purpose is.
      I recommend two weeks of community service.

      Soma

      • 2
        0

        soman

        “I recommend two weeks of community service.”

        Brilliant, are you sneakingly introducing Rajakaria to help Gota realise his fantastic promise, that he wanted to renovate 14,000 old irrigation schemes and 100,000 mile long road.
        We already know the island is bankrupt you don’t need to justify the clan’s plan to grab all the consumer/economic surplus.
        Are you closely working with Basil?
        What is in it for you?
        Basil wouldn’t share his wealth with you instead you would be honoured with Sri Lankabhimanya which won’t cost him a cent.
        Wish you all the best.

  • 2
    1

    The award winning film actor has displayed his immaturity time and time again. For RR life was one big soap opera, and the bubble has now burst. Goes to prove further that a degree from a recognized university should be mandatory for those aspiring to become parliamentarians.

  • 5
    0

    Shyamon, you mention that Ranjan had no evidence in his command to charge our judges as being corrupt. They are not only corrupt but some of them have been charged for sexually abusing spouses of convicts . As proof watch this great documentary about Judge Lenin Ratnayake which is a true story.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDvHKL34Fwk

  • 5
    1

    To understand the pathetic state of the judiciary of Srilanka please visit:
    http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2011/08/sarath-n-silva-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing.html
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Contempt-Sarath-Silva-13122018.pdf

    Lord Jesus admonished the crowd gathered around a sinner condemned to death by stoning asking them let the one who has not sinned cast the first stone. Little while later the crowd dwindled and then completely disappeared. I know for sure that one of the judges of the three judge bench is a sinner himself who traded his position as a judge.

    It is up to the judges to protect the dignity of the court by themselves being beyond reproach. The respect for the judiciary comes from command and not from demand. When the courts become part of the tyranny which is the worse disaster that can happen to a nation.

    Unfortunately, the judges have smashed the main pillar of democracy: the freedom of speech with out of which the world becomes totally blackened. The judges must give priority to the greater good of the people than to give into political expediency.

    It would have been highly commendable instead, had Mr.. Ranawaka Sunil Perera,43/11, Walawwatta Road,Gangodawila,Nugegoda.Complainant took the same action to bring to justice the criminals behind the Air Force MIG Scandal stealing from the poverty driven, hapless taxpayers of the country.

  • 1
    0

    you are correct.judiciary is respecting the RULER NOT THE JUSTICE SYSTEM AND LAW OF THE LAND.

  • 4
    0

    That country is so courrupt,from top to bottom need help from outside. Hong Kong is just doing that to bring confidence to the outside world where they have invited judges from UK.Not that the judges in HK is bad but to tell the world that they will deal with legal matter fairly to all.
    We also must get judges from UK,only solution and even get politicians as well. No ,one with the right mind will invest in the island, unless with a crooked insincere motive.

  • 1
    0

    Falling into a well in the thick of the night is one thing. You can blame the one who dug the well, if you will.
    Jumping into a well in broad day light with thousand cameras focussed is a little bit different. Charge of polluting drinking water is unavoidable, however genuine or innocent the purpose is.
    I recommend two weeks of community service.

    Soma

  • 0
    0

    Dear readers
    Restraining our emotions/prejudices for a moment let us now go for saner counsel.
    .
    Will a reader in legal profession kindly help clafify the following:
    .
    Taking evidence presented before the court into consideration
    is the accused guilty of contemp of court as charged?
    If YES
    What is the MINIMUM punishment that could be prescribed as per the law in respect of the subject offence, within the discretion of the judges?
    .
    Thanking in advance

    Soma

  • 1
    0

    Judiciary must earn the respect and confidence of the people, but in this case, can’t see any justice done but revenge. People have the right to keep an eye on judges, police and politicians who may not perform their duties to the expected standards.

  • 0
    0

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