28 October, 2020

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People Have Lost Confidence In The Failed Judiciary

By Mudliyar

In any civilised democracy, as the fourth pillar of governance, the role of all forms of media is not to be aligned with the party in power or with the opposition but to uphold and protect the sovereign rights of the people from those who exercise peoples’ legislative, executive and judicial power held absolutely in trust.

Chief Justice Bandaranayake

In Sri Lanka, peoples’ rights are recognised and guaranteed by the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, and Colombo Telegraph is to committed to expose any organ of the government that abuses the peoples’ power held in trust. This is in fact the social obligation of any media institution that plays the role of the ‘watchdog of the people’, a responsibility and role that has been conveniently forgotten by most of the print and electronic media in the country.

Under the current Rajapaksa administration, there is a controlled attack on the judiciary under the leadership of Chief Justice Bandaranayake about which the people are well aware. Yet, it appears that although people are concerned about these deplorable attacks, they are not entirely happy with the egocentric and self-centred way the judiciary has functioned in this country that only benefits the legal fraternity (judges and the lawyers).

Three annual vacations found no other respected democracy

The court system of Sri Lanka is overloaded with cases and there is completely unacceptable delay in dispensing justice. This situation continues unabated from the Magistrate’s Court to the Supreme Court. It is sickening to observe that some cases pending before the District Courts are over 10 years old and in some cases, during their pendency most witnesses die or have gone abroad, making the administration of justice a futile exercise. This system, which continues with no protest or objection by the people, only benefit the lawyers and relieves the judges of their responsibility to dispense justice without delay.

In Sri Lanka there are three vacations declared by the court system, found in no other civilised democracy, and is truly an addition of insult to injury in the failed administration of justice system and probably the general public is not aware of this at all.  According to the judicial diary for the year 2013, the days already allocated for the so-called vacation are 13th January to 15th February 2013, 12thAugust to 26th August 2013, and 23rd December 15th January 2013. It is noted that even in England, the country that installed their justice system in this country, there is no such vacation system, which they probably practiced during the colonial period. Modern British government has completely done away with this relaxed justice system that serves not the people that it is supposed to serve, but the legal fraternity, the judges and the lawyers who operate the justice system.

Appalling administration of fundamental rights jurisdiction

In Sri Lanka there are some fundamental rights that are recognised by the Constitution (the right to life recognised by the UDHR has been left out) and under the law, the executive is required to respect and honour these rights enjoyed by the people.

In all cases where people make complaint to the Supreme Court of violations of their fundamental rights, the Supreme Court is required under the law to inquire into such complaints and pronounce its determination within two months of the filing of such complaints to the Supreme Court [Article 126 (5) of the Constitution].

It is worthwhile to examine how this actually operates under the justice system in Sri Lanka. The Supreme Court sits at 10.30 am and almost everyday finishes its business around 01.00 pm. And as a matter of routine business most of the cases comes up before it are postponed for the convenience of the judges and the lawyers.

From the viewpoint of the people, this practice adopted by the judges, who are maintained by the public funds, is completely unacceptable. Yet battered people who are taken for a ride by the system have nobody to complain to about the abuse of the system by both judges and lawyers.

The law requires [Article 126(5) of the Constitution] that the Supreme Court shall hear and determine fundamental rights applications within two moths from filing. Yet for the convenience of the judges and the lawyers, the Court has held that it is not bound by the said provision of law enacted for the effective administration of fundamental rights of the people. Clearly this flawed interpretation of the law had been done with no respect to the rights of the people, whose judicial power is exercised by the judges but for the convenience of the judges and lawyers, who undertake any number of cases that come their way. This is one of the best examples of the way the trust placed on the judges by the people have been violated by them.

Surely, the people, openly betrayed by the executive, do not condone the attack launched on the judiciary by the executive, yet the people hold the judiciary itself responsible for the grave and irresponsible lapses on its part, and for their contributory negligence and self-centred attitude for the sorry state of affairs in the judicial system that serve not the people, but is run in an appalling way serving only those who exercise the peoples’ judicial power and those who are in the legal profession, whose awful behaviour and conduct is never reported to the people by the judiciary, that is accountable to the people for due administration of justice.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    Here is an opportunity to use the 2/3rd majority and cut down the
    leave in keeping with other Democracies in the SARC countries, for
    the benefit of the people – which the Regime always claims to be
    serving! This will go a long way to reduce the court delays of
    extraordinary length.

    • 0
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      Judiciary should be the Godfather of the masses. When in dire straits they seek refuge at the hands of judiciary when every thing else fails and are helpless.
      It is the moral obligation of those who are in the profession to serve the masses with a clean conscientious as they will decide the right and wrong and give a sentence or a corrective action at the time.

      Any human being will have to abide by the laws of KARMA as Lord Buddha preached.
      This should be clearly understood by any human where, whose decision alone will be the reason to punish another.
      Judiciary will be in no way an exception to this UNIVERSAL LAW.
      Their judgement will be served to them when the time comes.
      They should always do the most righteous acts and set example.

  • 0
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    The Head Line says, ‘People have Lost Confidence in The Failed Judiciary’. Can someone please state whether the People of this Country have their Self Confidence in the first place?

    • 0
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      Yes xactly the same is what came to my mind immediately I read the head line.

      I was about to raise the question – what people ?

  • 0
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    Hey its not only the judiciary the entire public service have failed in their obligations.

    worst is the Judiciary, courts begin at 9 am finish by 1pm, some begin at 10pm finish at 1 pm.

    why cant a Govt with 2/3rd power rectify these.

    Both UNP & UPFA does not serve the general public only serve themselves.

  • 0
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    There are more than 65,000 pending cases clogging the judicial system.Some ‘property cases’ last for many years – by the time these cases end,the litigants have to sell the property to settle the lawyers’ fees.
    These pending cases are the ‘bread and butter’ of lawyers.
    A former supreme court judge famously said “Lawyers live on dates,just like the arabs”.He used to call up long delayed cases from the lower courts – this is allowed – hear them himself, and pronounce judgement expeditiously.He was loved by litigants and hated by lawyers.

    Today,the judiciary concurs with the police in practically everything, and never hears the citizen’s side of ‘the story’at the first hearing.
    The accused are ‘automatically’ remanded – even those with obvious injuries.
    In a recent case of murder of a politician,though more than 60 shots were fired during the pre-election incident,the police produced only one gun, after a month,and requested “permission” to fingerprint it!
    The court allowed this without any query.No bullet casings were produced.Examination of hands/arms of those present during the incident,for gunpowder residue was NOT done – this simple test would have identified those who had discharged firearms.
    Nowadays, postmortem reports are kept a secret.
    In the old days,each murder trial opens with the reading of the postmortem report by the medical officer,in open court – which establishes the cause,time & manner of death.Then, he is cross examined by the prosecution and defence.
    Many judicial officers were disciplined over the past few years.
    Now the Supreme Court & Judicial Services Commission appear to be under threat,by the executive.
    This interferes with dispensation of justice.
    Too much vacation time is allowed. Justice has to be expeditious,to be effective & benefit the citizen.

  • 0
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    Jusutice delayed is Justice denied. The Sri Lankan Judiciary is as corrupt as the Politicians and the Criminals in the country. The only difference is the Judiciary is on the side of the Law ripping the masses and the Criminals who come before Courts and the offenders are on the otherside. Considering the villany resorted to by the Judiciary and the Lawyers making money is no different to the Public servants taking bribes. One is Official while the other is not, by what standards God only knows. I know for a fact certain criminal cases the accused request the retained Counsel to take up their cases, before prefered Judges.

  • 0
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    In modern societies, the persons who interpret and apply the improtant kinds of rules are known as judges or collectively as the judicial branch of the government. These institution are known as courts and povide the confidence to the people. If they have failed to provide the service it becomes a lawless society.

  • 0
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    Tamils have lost faith in Judicairy long ago. whether it is beaten up by the same forces whom the Judicary supported is no concern. It is nice to watch to forms of Satans fight each other

  • 0
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    This is a good ARTICLE. Well done Mudliyar!

  • 0
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    In addition to the three vacations mentioned in the article are they enjoying the 21 days casual leave and 24 days vacation leave given to public servants under the establishment code?

  • 0
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    While the Sinhala Nation lost faith in the judicial system after the marverick CJ Sarath Silva, the Tamil Nation had much reason to lose faith in our judiciary decades ago. Even judgements given by the SC for the vacation of residential and agricultural lands in the so-called HSZ were totally ignored by the Army. In any other civilised country the Chief of the Army would have been suitably dealt with. Certainly not here. Much of these HSZ lands have been given to army officials and their nominees while the legal owners are banished to the elements and the open.

    M.A. Sumanthiran, the TNA MP and Attorney has listed several instances where the SC chose to ignore its sacred duty by ignoring leave for appeals, which should have been taken up in a day or two. What can you expect from a judicial system at its higher levels when those at the top are deeply involved in wheeler-dealing albeit via proxies.

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
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      Senguttuvan,don’t be blind to everything. As much as the Sinhala racists should be comdemned, Tamil racists should also think twice about themselves. In the eighties and nineties (before Silva, that judicial thug from Katana), the Supreme Court gave good judgements – for Tamil people also. Please do not forget that. Why focus only always on the negative? To prove your point?

      Yes, Silva destroyed. He destroyed for everyone not only the Sinhalese people. The HSZ judgments being ignored cannot be blamed on the judiciary.

      When will Tamils realise not to talk only of the Tamils and when will Sinhalese realise not to talk only of the Sinhalese?

      This country truly has no future.

  • 0
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    Govt Analyst department is another laziest dept which gives it report very very, late , some more than one year.

  • 0
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    Pandu, you miss the point. I did not blame the judiciary for ignoring the directives on the HSZ. It is the Army that is at fault and of insulting the SC. Sarath Silva has delivered many good judgements too-
    like against CBK’s Rajagiriya Golf Course racket. I agree with you
    the higher Courts generally maintained their judicial integrity in the earlier years.

    By the way, what have you to say about our judicial system while hundreds of thousands of Tamils were savaged and their homes cleaned out and businesses looted in July 1983 not a SINGLE case was successfully filed by the Police – who, in many instances, were stealing from the Tamils themselves. Later on this issue was to become a UNP-SLFP tug-of-war. Tamils stood to lose here as well. A friend I knew living within the Colombo General Hospital area lost over Rs.10 million then (worth over Rs.350 million today) was given an order of
    Rs.3 million by REPPIA but the Bank of Ceylon obliquely scuttled it. Is it because he was a Tamil? For God’s sake, don’t call me a racist.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
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    I was quite disappointed to see this statement by Mudliyar or the Colombo Telegraph. There is no question that the media should speak the ‘truth,’ as they see it of course, without aligning with any party, the government or the opposition. But they should not fail to grasp the reality in its proper context. The issue at stake at present is the ‘independence of the judiciary’ and obvious ‘threats to the judiciary,’ apparently from the executive.

    The title of the statement must be ‘sweet’ to those who are waging attacks on the judiciary at present. It says the ‘judiciary has failed’ and ‘people have lost confidence in the judiciary’! These pronouncements in fact supply justification for the attacks or at least sinister criticisms of the judiciary.

    In respect of the contents of the statement, of course some of the criticisms are correct. Those have been there for a long time (i.e. delays, lethargy, structural defects etc.) and they should have been raised before. I have seen the Asian Human Rights Commission rightly raising these issues before but not now, when the judiciary is under severe attack. This does not necessarily mean that raising them at present is completely wrong, if you wish to do so, but it should have been done while ‘defending the judiciary’ and its ‘independence’ in my opinion.

    Of course the Colombo Telegraph and Mudliyar can disagree with ‘my opinion,’ but it should be clear on what side they stand on the issue of the independence of the judiciary at this crucial juncture: with the government? Or with the judiciary?

    I expect a statement by the Colombo Telegraph on this question.

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