26 May, 2019

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Random Shades Of Sri Lankan ‘Justice’

By Rajapaksha Premarathna

Rajapaksha Premarathna

I often see various people complain, complement or remain silence on how justice is meted out in many countries in the world. For the same outcome. I have seen the complements and also complaints. So I searched a proper definition. Here is what I saw but if the readers know better I can be educated. They are extracted from the ordinary dictionaries and the legal dictionaries

‘A concern for Justice, piece, genuine respect for people’

‘The quality of being fair and reasonable’

‘Fairness, Moral rightness, A scheme or system of law in which every person receives his/her/its due from the system including all rights both natural and legal’

How would you apply them to the following four incidents that took place recently in Sri Lanka. All four incidents have been reported in alternative media but some incidents did not appear or appeared marginally in the mainstream media

In early hours a group of youths returning from a birthday party allegedly knocked down a police officer on a duty tour on the official motor cycle. It was reported they crossed the traffic light when it was ‘Red’ and the youth were under the influence of liquor. Apparently CCTV footage shows they looked at the victim but proceeded leaving him on the road. Following day they surrendered to police. Whilst the public appeared to be disputing the identity of the real driver, the court eventually released all but the person presented as the driver of the vehicle. Among the travellers were the sons of an infamous politician and a senior police officer. The bail hearing was allegedly having been held in an unusual close hearing. The victim was last known to have been lying in a critical condition at ICU

A well-known politician of a prominent Sri Lankan political party allegedly hit a motor bicycle injuring the two female riders whilst overtaking another vehicle in a city road in the after afternoon. It is alleged the driver was under the influence of liquor but surrendered to police. The judge remanded him for 14 days

An ex-soldier cum self proclaimed mythical healer who became a member of a local governing body (politician) who practices a kind of craft to eliminate mythical demon effect on people allegedly raped  a 16 year old girl (who was brought by the parents for help) several times under the guise of  ridding her of the demon effect. After absconding police arrest, he surrendered later upon a complaint to the police. He has been granted bail within a few hours.

A lecturer of a leading University allegedly drove recklessly his vehicle under the influence of liquor hitting a woman who was crossing the road and knocking off a few vehicles before toppling to a nearby paddy field. The woman was pronounced dead on admission. The driver was granted bail.

At this point we may not be able to speculate the final outcome of the court findings; these are only a few illustrative samples of many random shades of the justice

Here are the questions for the readers.

How would you apply the above principles in the definitions to each of these cases or do we have to write different definitions to explain ‘ Justice’?

Have the police applied the same standard to every case? Has the court applied the same rule of law to every case? Who is responsible for the ‘Checks & Balances’ of these applications and what have they got to say about these?

My own answers are obvious.

On the other hand if you take them to a ‘ People’s Court’ what would be the verdict?

Isn’t the time getting closer and closer or has passed for having ‘ People’s Courts’.  Would you fuel or douse such desire. What is your decision?

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Latest comments

  • 9
    0

    Well said. However, the writer has missed another point related to arresting people for “failure to avoid an accident”. There was case where a drunken motorcyclist hit a parked vehicle and got killed. The driver of this vehicle who was not in the car even at the time of the accident was arrested an remanded for 14 days. In another case a drunk actress rammed into a parked lorry near the parliament and the driver of the lorry was promptly remanded. There are many cases where innocent drivers have been remanded in the context of failure to avoid an accident. This has made driving on Sri Lanka’s roads a terrible nightmare. With so many reckless drivers on the roads innocent drivers are increasingly getting harassed. Police and even the judiciary take different positions depending on the person involved. Even in the case of the lecturer mentioned, he was released by a magistrate even when a death is involved. The driver of a politician who seriously injured a lady motor cycle driver was released immediately after the intervention of the minister. I am curious to know what the procedure is in other countries. Can the police explain this duplicity in dealing with cases of “failure to avoid an accident”?

  • 0
    4

    Peoples’ courts, every thing american. What is after that, TV camaras inside too and making rape cases sensational.

  • 6
    0

    Well presented. Your search for justice is like looking for a needle in a hay stack. In Sri Lanka the politicians are like super magicians who known to be capable of even making the Niagara Water Falls disappear before a large audience. I am with you for People’s courts sans political representation.

    • 0
      0

      All the victims are women.
      the Veddas of Sri Lanka are a matriarchial culture.

      Surely, you can say hell to canada and america, “speakers of any language with sans in it” and welcome some female perspectives.
      Surely there are Tamil female lawyers around the world, then there must be sri lankan female lawyers.
      the earliest lesson in laws for western people (Israel’s biblical history) is don’t criticize the leader and here in 2005, don’t criticize politicians. using abstract terms.
      vis-a-vis The future is hopeful for sri lanka if politicians can learn to respect Veddas as “indigenous peoples” and respect natural virgin forests over western technological ‘rapid advances’.

  • 3
    0

    The writer has posed a timely and a serious question and I commend him for that. The writer touches upon differences in granting bail and remanding persons in custody highlighting that uniform standards are not available in deciding whether a person suspected or accused of an offence should be granted bail or remanded. In this blessed country in one locality a woman out of rage killed the husband using a crowbar after discovering that he had sexual relationships with a daughter of hers from the first marriage. The decision of the High Court Judge was that this is due to sudden provocation and the woman was sentenced to a period of imprisonment (7 years if I am not mistaken). In an almost identical case in another zone of this country the woman was sentenced to death for murder. HOW COME? Clearly we have not defined that in a matter where culpable homicide has taken place, which of them fall in the category of a murder. In fact it is known among legal circles that a particular High Court Judge is supposed to have said, if an accused in a homicide admits and is repentant then he would not hand down the ultimate penalty but if the accused is not, then he would not hesitate to wear the black cap. The judge made standards are not uniform among other judges. So it is important that charges preferred must actually refer to the action. Even a vagrant in this country knows that there is a huge difference between a pre-planned killing and a killing that takes place in a sudden fight.

  • 3
    0

    Justice, does not look at fairness. It’s designed to support the ruling party, to keep the discipline of society, to minimize the hurdles, while marching towards prosperity.
    ,
    Sometimes the system will have to resort to unfair punishments, to secure the future.
    ,
    No evidence, No justice. No money, No lawyers, No justice. For the poor to win any case, is next to impossible.
    ,
    No one wants to be a government funded lawyer for ever, because the money is better when you practice privately.
    ,
    The whole industry is rigged. Only hope to make it better, is reducing economic disparity and increasing affordability of the public.

  • 3
    0

    The poor ordinary citizenry of the country have become the victims of the progeny of the ruling class of this country, who had by hook or by crook amassed wealth and bought defender jeeps, which are normally used in war and killing the road uses after getting intoxicated both drugs and power.The latest involves the son of Aluthgamage who had embezzled nation’s funds to the tune of several billions, bought houses in the UK and Australia. In the good old days we as youngsters were either fast asleep or studying at 4.30 in the morning. Then there was Keheliya’s son who tried to open the exit door of a plane at 30,000 feet in mid air. The other worthies were Bandula Gunawardene’s son, Abeygunawardene’s [raththaran] nephew. Incidentally, I believe it was Raththaran who broke my wife’s chain and managed to take a piece of the chain at Wadduwa railway station as the train was just pulling off., way back in mid 1970s. .There are many more that I am unable to recall. Sirisena at this point of time, will do a better service to the nation by putting aside for the moment his extensive plan of sending drug offenders to gallows but castrate all sons of such politicians, so that they will not reproduce and our grand children will be safe.

  • 0
    0

    Citizen Perera , If this was the case in US, the intoxicated driver will be checked for BAL or taken to a hospital once confirmed then the person is put behind bars, until judicial hearing, probably within 24 to 48 hours. I can assure almost this individual will spend some time in prison, followed by mandated drug and alcohol treatment/rehab,community services, fines, this will be recorded as DUI in the criminal records which is accessible to public, people may loose their occupational licenses to practice and most of the jobs request a criminal record from applicants and potential employees and we cannot hide this from anyone. Given these strict measures, still people drink and drive. Imagine the situation in Sri Lanka ???? With no such laws in place and the dysfunctional judicial system we have (as long DUI is concerned there is no meaningful changes in law, to my recollection) lot more innocent lives will be sacrificed. Usually death under influenced is considered as willful or first degree murder in US, where sentences are severe.

    • 1
      0

      Thanks Chiv for telling us about the US situation. I was more worried about the innocent party (no BAL) who are remanded for 14 days for failure to avoid an accident including those drivers of vehicles which are parked on the roadside. The driver may be at home and the Police will get him remanded too as it happened in many occasions in our good old Sri Lanka.

  • 0
    0

    Mr Premarathna

    The injustice in the hands of the law & even judiciary, has been there as long as I remember but it has been increasing exponentially in recent years. The obvious cause is the political influence & until we have decent & sincere politicians, the lawlessness & injustice will only increase.

    The lack of education & refinement expected from a leader of a country,which are totally lacking in Sirisena, is reflected on his proposal for reintroducing the death penalty. In this scenario, how many innocent people, some may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, will be framed for crimes they have not committed & will have to pay the ultimate penalty? This is the ultimate danger of injustice brought about by people who have no conscience.

  • 1
    0

    In Srilanka Justice= Impunity. This is the reason why this country is referred to as a Land Like no other!

  • 0
    0

    Citizen parking illegal is an offence which is nothing to do with the DUI . But when a person crashes under influence and the innocent being found guilty is NEW to me . I have lived in west, east , third world , poor countries I o not remember hearing this anywhere other than Lanka. As Plato said this is what makes us land like no other. A LAUGHING STOCK to others. The sparse comments some what
    reflects Lankan opinion on DUI .

  • 1
    0

    Rajapaksha Premarathna forlornly opens his heart here.
    Sri Lankan society has evolved into Lankan Elites Sans Frontières and, the silent majority, ‘others’.
    Elites, soaked in “Culture” of corruption/nepotism/impunity, have no political borders. They buy/sell INJUSTICE.
    The ‘Others’ almost always get Black Justice. The Elites sometimes help directly or through agents. .

  • 0
    0

    Dear Mr. Rajapakse> A timely posing of some crucial questions for both Sri lankans in SL and the SLs outside Sri Lanka. This was the situation in India at the time the British Raj captured power. All those who belonged to the highest caste were given one type of punishment or none at all, and the others received a different harsher ones. Although we talk about democracy for over 70 years now, we still show vivid symptoms of feudalism. The police officer you refer to is dead now. When the head of the state keeps quiet about the incidents referred to above, the henchmen will simply follow suit and continue with their nefarious activities. . Kigami in Ruwnda is trying to clean up the mess that was created by two ethnic fractions and their supporters in the country. He had to remove and “exterminate” many of the corrupted politicians and public officials as part of his cleaning campaign. Sri Lanka will eventually move and called for a similar intervention, provided we find an exemplary leader and a few trustworthy politicians.. We also need a massive community -based campaign to educate our villagers and youth regarding a new direction for the country. I feel it has begun now .

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