4 December, 2020

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Ranjan Ramanayake Opens A Can Of Worms

By Nagananda Kodituwakku

Nagananda Kodituwakku

The exposure given by the media to the stand taken by Ranjan Ramanayake, MP, against corruption involving the judiciary and the legal profession should be an eye opener to all citizens of Sri Lanka. In my view, his bold attempt to raise this important issue before the voters is entirely lawful, especially at a time the government has already conceded to the international community that the people of Sri Lanka have no confidence in the judiciary, which lacks accountability. In fact, people expect from their elected members of Parliament to address the fundamental issues of this nature that affect the people’s sovereign rights, which cannot be ensured without an independent judiciary and honest legal professionals to assist in dispensing justice.

People have the right to criticize the Judiciary and legal profession

I absolutely agree with MP Ranjan Ramanayake’s view on the judiciary and the legal profession in Republic of Sri Lanka, where the people are considered supreme only in theory but not in practice. This type of actions would be instrumental in educating the people that they are the masters over all organs of the government and that no one in the judiciary exercises any divine power, but the judicial power of the people. And every judge makes a pledge under the Constitution to observe and honour the public trust doctrine and is required to protect vindicate and enforce the people’s judicial power with due respect and regard to the supreme sovereign rights vested in the people.

Therefore, there is no question that a people’s representative like Ranjan Ramanayake, MP, has every right to express his studied concerns about the lapses and failures involving the judiciary and the legal profession, with the sole objective of compelling the Government to take necessary measures to arrest the declining trends and to win back the confidence of the constituents and the international community. 

Bar Association takes different stands

No one can ignore the fact that it was the loss of people’s confidence in the judiciary that made the Government of Sri Lanka to co-sponsor a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council on 01st Oct 2015, against itself. It was highly significant that the Bar Association of Sri Lanka too was made to concede the absence of independence and accountability in Sri Lanka’s Judiciary as follows.

“…“… It is unfortunate that existing judicial and prosecutorial system have not met the confidence of many concerned. It is an undeniable fact that over a period of time the independence and credibility of many of these institutions have suffered due to many reasons, resulting in an erosion of the confidence in the system as a whole…” – Geoffrey Alagaratnam, PC, President of the Bar Association, 28th Nov 2015 (Statement of the BASL on the Report of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka)

However, the people can now observe that the Bar Association under the current leadership has publicly entered into a tussle against MP, Ranjan Ramanayake threatening him either to withdraw his statement or face contempt of court charges an action of which go against the view expressed by the former President of the Bar Association on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.

Judges cannot afford to be timorous souls

The celebrated English Judge Lord Denning once remonstrated that ‘judges cannot afford to be timorous souls and they cannot remain impotent, incapable and sterile in the face of injustice’. Therefore, it is inevitable, that when the judiciary fails to observe its constitutional obligations to the people quite naturally it comes under fire from the constituents and their representatives. People always expect the judiciary to be the symbol   of hope against injustice being committed by corrupt criminal elements occupying office in the legislature and the executive. Accordingly, Ranjan Ramanayake expresses his views well within the parameters of the rule of law.

The Judiciary itself is responsible for losing public confidence

In 1988 a Bench of five Supreme Court judges had declared that National List provision (Article 99A) permitting rejected candidates to enter the Parliament was constitutional.   This is a clear case of constitutional fraud committed by the judiciary in collaboration with the Executive (the then President J R Jayewardene) and the Speaker of the then Parliament. The role played by the Supreme Court in this case was a total betrayal of the trust placed in it by the people (click the following link for the judgment).

When this Constitutional fraud was discovered and all National List appointments made after the 2015 General Election were challenged (SC/Writs/5/2015) along with a request to appoint a fuller bench of the Supreme Court to hear this matter of National Importance in terms of Article 132 (3)  (iii) of the Constitution.  Yet, the Chief Justice K Sripavan declined it and after his retirement the matter was once again brought before the Chief Justice Priyasath Dep. Yet again it was declined, which showed that the Judiciary was incapable of giving effect to its constitutional mandates. In this backdrop this important case of National Importance was discontinued by the Petitioner on 31st July 2017.

Click the following link to view the Motion filed in the Supreme Court on 31st July 2017 setting out the reasons for discontinuance.      

For this serious lapse on the part of the incumbent Chief Justice and his predecessor favoring the government they have been charged for committing Judicial Corruption.  In addition several other former Chief Justices and judges in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal have also been charged for judicial corruption. The names of these judges include former Chief Justices, Sarath N Silva, Shirani Bandaranayake, Mohan Pieris, K Sripavan and the incumbent Chief Justice Priyasath Dep and justices Eva Vanasundara and Vijith Malalgoda. Further the incumbent Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya and his predecessor Yuwanjan Wijayathilake have also been charged for abuse of public office for committing corruption.

It is unbelievable for a Chief Justice to plead with the Executive (President and the Prime Minister) of the new government to remain in office, assuring judgments favouring the government and also to appoint judges according to the wishes of the government. Regrettably, this became a reality with the former Chief Justice Mohan Pieris and the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe brought it before the parliament on 30th Jan 2015, humiliating the entire judiciary. Another notable serious lapse recorded in the recent judicial history is the public apology made to the people by the former Chief Justice (Sarath N Silva) for his failure to perform his office as required by law in ‘Helping Hambantota case’ involving former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

These evidence are in the public domain and the people and their representatives have every right to examine them and criticize the judiciary for its serious lapses affecting the citizenry.   

Restoring the Integrity of the Judiciary 

People who have lost their trust and confidence in the Judiciary have reported the state of Judiciary of Sri Lanka to the Commonwealth of Nations, to ensure that Latimer House principles which state that ‘An independent, impartial, honest and competent judiciary is integral to upholding the rule of law, engendering public confidence and dispensing justice’ are implemented.

Regulatory body for the legal profession similar to the United Kingdom, is a must

Proposal has already been floated by me for the establishment of an independent regulatory body for the legal profession in Sri Lanka, similar to the Solicitor Regulatory Authority in the UK. It does justice to the British public by removing all corrupt elements occupying office as legal practitioners. The absence of such a mechanism in Sri Lanka causes tremendous damage to the profession with enormous undesirable elements continuing to engage in legal practice.

The importance of having such a mechanism in operation could be highlighted from the information provided by the British Law Society, which is given below. It gives the number of lawyers who have been removed, suspended and disciplined for abuse of their profession for the year 2016 alone.

In the final analysis, the importance of honouring the constitutional mandate is stressed that requires every judge and a lawyer to perform the public office with due respect and regard to the citizenry who hold sovereign power over all organs of the Government; Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary. 

*Nagananda Kodituwakku, Attorney-at-Law (Sri Lanka) & Solicitor (England and Wales)

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Latest comments

  • 4
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    Parliamentary powers over statutory bodies dealing with judicial process , including the judiciary be taken away. Otherwise Judgements be regarded as invalid.

    • 12
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      There are many more sacred cows in SL that are immune to criticism.
      “Therefore, there is no question that a people’s representative like Ranjan Ramanayake, MP, has every right to express his studied concerns about the lapses and failures involving the judiciary and the legal profession,”
      Replace “judiciary and legal profession” above with “Maha Sangha” for example. Are we allowed to freely criticize errant monks such as Gnanasara and Elle Gunawansa in mainstream media? Why is there no discussion of the less-than -saintly Somarama and Buddharakiththa in school history books?
      In case some think I am biased, why was Bishop Francis’s case hushed up? Why is he not in jail?
      No institution should be above criticism in a true democracy.

      • 2
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        Dear Raman,

        You are trying to put Bishop Shantha Francis in jail, are you?

        Just see how he continues to reign in glory:

        http://dioceseofkurunegala.com/

        This is more than 30 months after he was “removed” by the Archbishop of Canterbury:

        http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5473/bishop-of-kurinegala=resigns-statement-from-lambeth-palace

        But, course, Raman, you are right. Shantha Francis hardly matters in the scheme of things. The “Maha Sangha” do. We have to recognise that there have been holy religious people, but that the prevalence of crooks and murderers among them should be recongnised.

        *

        Laws have to apply to all!

        *

        Isn’t it wonderful that we have a man like Nagananda Kodituwakku speaking out fearlessly (? ah, but he’s also decided that for the sake of his family [quite justified, in my view] that he’d better not live in Sri Lanka). Thanks, Nagananda!

  • 8
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    “…….people expect from their elected members of parliament to address the fundamental issues of this nature (i.e. corruption involving the judiciary and the legal profession) that affect the people’s sovereign rights, …..”
    Mr Nagananda, I do not disagree if you are only addressing the legal profession. But think for a moment how we could expect the legal community to tow the line, when the politicians that appoint this community are corrupt in the first place. Politicians in the previous regime bent the laws at their will and indulged in all sorts of criminal activities, having taken the cue from the former President himself. The current regime does the same: the case of MS’s son and his mob beating up the night club; RW/RK/Mahendran gang scamming the Central Bank and getting away with it; at a smaller scale the exposure of corrupt local politicians by Ranjan Ramanayaka a few months ago in digging up and selling soil of a public land in some remote village as if it was their private property. These are just some examples. Your statement is valid only if we assume that politicians in charge have a moral conscience and a duty to the public. But this is not so, as they make it their objective to serve themselves and their families as the first priority and above the law, and appoint magistrates, junior and senior judges, as well high level functionaries in AG department from those that are ready to worship and do their bidding. The ROT starts from the top, or from the men and women who are at the centre of our government and promoting and continuing a feudal system where the strong and powerful dictates and all the others are expected to follow. Here is a contrasting factual story about good governance: Several years ago it was big news in the UK. Princess Anne who was driving a car either too fast on a motorway as well as driving after consuming alcohol was stopped by a police constable, charged, taken to the courts and fined with some points on her license. He or his bosses did not refer the matter to the Queen or to anyone else for the purpose of sweeping it under the carpet. That is the way the law and its enforcement agencies should work. I very much doubt if it would work like that in Sri Lanka for another millennium.

  • 10
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    Thank you Nagi, for coming forward. To add to your list, there are a few Sri Lankan solicitors among them that I am aware of. One had to spend a jail sentence. The most unfortunate among them is the husband (RB) of a so called diplomat (RB) attached to the SL embassy in Rome, appointed by MR. She was the SLFP organizer of the UK branch. I am sure you know them personally as well. Good luck Ranjan and keep going .

  • 1
    20

    Mr nagananda writes nonsense . None of those charges he has mentioned have been charged with corruption .[Edited out]

    • 9
      1

      You should be talking BS. If he has the educational qualifications, why he can not analyze and present what he see?. Sri lanka is unbelievably corrupt. As soon as the president and Ranil came to power by appointing defeated and prosecuted candidates, they both showed they are there to fool the voters and for nothing else. Then the beuarucrats, media are inthe same boat too. The other important thing these people shamless and those are called white-collar crimes.

    • 0
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      nobody removed your Horns????. tuch and feel it.

  • 3
    1

    Sam,
    Are you maning Nagananda is not better than GL Peris as competent lawyers ?

  • 2
    14

    Yes Sam nagananda writes nonsense [Edited out]

  • 9
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    Sri lanka is extremely corrupt. Because of that top lines of aSanga need to involve. That is an unfortunate situation. That is more complicate than you think

  • 9
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    While every case of judicial corruption Nagananda K had mentioned is absolutely despicable and there could be many many more such I have a feeling that ‘in general’ the judges are fair and cannot be bought. What is incorrigibly , yes INCORRIGIBLY corrupt (and thoroughly unprofessional) is the’prosecution’ arm of our system. Abondon all your hopes as you enter a police station and leave your dignity at the door step.
    Soma

  • 11
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    Rajan R must form a new party with corrupt free politicians that clean the entire country of corruption,from bottom to top but are we ready for that? I doubt it.

  • 12
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    It appears Nagananda is a thorn to some now.
    What a sri Lanka

  • 9
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    Hats off to you sir for a very incisive article on a most sensitive subject, but rest assured that nothing will change dramatically with the present system of governance in operation. The entire system of electing the representatives of the people should be changed to rid us of these scoundrels who are ruling at their whim and fancy. The Canton system of governance in Switzerland should be adopted with whatever changes that are necessary to suit any given country to achieve good governance. A page on Facebook titled Fine Tuning Democracy gives an inkling of such a system.

  • 3
    2

    what is happening the corruption prosecutuin we can see openly. Because, what Mahinda Rajapakse Talks, what the big mouth of the horapalanaya talking and what thalatha Athukorala explain everything. Including Maithripala sirisena, the whole establishement is robbing the country and desrtroying the country. Unfortunatley so -called civil society, and many other NGO organizations are another groups of hyenas and they are looking for life blood of people for their benefit.

  • 7
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    Political interference into law enforcement agencies has become a tool to stifle contrary opinions. This was pointed out way back by International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute following GR’s post in the then Defense Ministry website. The GoSL instead of noting this, went ahead with the creation of the White-Van Brigade.
    Nagananda, please note that there is a silver lining. Dissenters are speaking now.

  • 4
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    From the bottom level rural casual labour or a school boy to the top level President and PM of the country have no respect to the Law and order! Doesn’t matter, whether its a small or big violation of rule or law, it disturbs the social harmony and peace among the civilize society. It is fair to say that Sri Lankan politics corrupted the judiciary system systematically as the author pointed out since our independency. Hon Mr Ranjan Ramanayake’s comment has opened it up, without any party politics, we should salute him for his courageous attempt. Who ever in the Parliament genuinely think that Sri Lanka needs fair and impartial judiciary system should stand up and express their concern like RR did. The powerful media should scrutinize these politician’s real concern and if they are genuine media should back them without any fear. This is the only way to give a better education to the constituents to practice their democratic rights for the correct choice of people to the parliament. Similarly, the other apparatus in the governing systems such as any corrupt institution (economics, admin or services) should be criticized. Would it be possible??? I am not sure!!

  • 5
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    The law in this country is undermined by the lawyers , unfortunately many become parliamentarians and they are undermining our democracy and sovereignty.

  • 2
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    We did not offer our support to Mr. Nagananda to having corrected Political Parties appointing people rejected candidates. Theoretically Nagananda was correct. We too predicted puppet Sri pavan would not go against Yahapalanaya. Probably everyone, including Mr. Nagananda might have expected that verdict when the Sinhala Government appoints a Tamil to a serious position there is reason for that. Kathirgamar, Radhika, LTTE IGP, Mahendran, Thamara, Sripavan….. they all are in that line.

    Our point on not supporting was TNA had used that loophole to patch one of its deficiencies. We did not like TNA rolling back on that. (Now there is a local council election requirement to parties to promote women candidates.) TNA lacking on this because army’s threat to Ananthi, Vijayarani like women candidates and Tamil women are scared to stand for elections.

    Further, under the current system an unelected candidate is not always rejected by people, but the system maneuvers to appoint a favorable one to the government. That is one of the reasons Mano Ganesan and other minorities’ leaders oppose this system.

    Ranjan criticized corrupted parliamentarians too. Some or how he got out of it. But on this he is stuck. I don’t think if you save Ranjan on this he won’t get caught again in another one. That is ok to sacrifice one man to establish the Sinhala Chauvinist Royalties like “Yahapalanaya – New Royals” or “Chitanta- Old Royals”. I wouldn’t waste my time with him, until he takes a crash course from Gnanam or Old King.

  • 2
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    What about very very expensive lawyers appearing for a Doctors union president, when his malpractices brought to the courts and winning the cases all the time? I gathered that same lawyers appearing for the most corrupted politicians in the recent past! Is it something to do with the money factor ( union members money and stolen money from the state?)

  • 4
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    A contributory factor as I see it is all judges having an eye on possible govt positions after retirement. The practice of bringing back govt servants as consultants and at other positions has brought all govt servants to be pawns in the hands of those in power. In the old days when one retires from govt service you stay retired. Now the greed for money overpowers everything. If these appointments are stopped one would see a certain independence among the so called govt servants

  • 6
    0

    Usually ‘bull in the china shop’ Ramanayake has got it right this time. He has only shared the general wiews and disillutions of the silent majority concerning the judiciary and the corrupt legal profession. The right to protect the sovereignity of the people is not restricted to their representatives or the establishment; it is an inelienable right of the individual citizen.

  • 5
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    World history shows that from time to time tyrants appear and subvert justice. Helping Hambantota is a clear case how MR subverted justice using former CJ Sarath Silva. Generations will have to pay for this blunder made possible by one man. There is no one courageous enough to go for a revision.Encouraging writing. We have to start some where to clean up the mess. We need more Ranjan Ramanayakas in the parliament.

  • 7
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    Ranjan Ramanayake has said it all in ONE SHOT!

  • 2
    0

    Dear Non PhD and all,

    I respect you for what you write. It shows your concern for the country. At the same time I urge you to read Nagananda AAL(NK) with an open mind. Judge him by his writings, his actions. All public Litigation cases filed by him are in the public domain and available for you to read. Ranjan Ramanayake(RR) and NK both go against Judicial corruption boldly became I believe they have doe good research work before coming out to open. That’s the way it should be. I studied the National List case and astonished to see what an amount of information NK has unearthed on behalf of the people. For 28 years this constitutional fraud under the carpet. Now NK requests the Judiciary to rectify the error. RR too says that. When RR does good work, we should be humble enough to appreciate him, help him and encourage him for other MP’s to learn a lesson. Ladies and Gentlemen It is better to engage in constructive criticism only after doing your own reading, listening and observations. Yes, it is what you could do for this beautiful nation which is in search of true sons of the soil ! I also thank Victor Ivan who had been using his media arm to bring out corruption involving the Judiciary. No democracy will survive without and independent Judiciary.

  • 1
    0

    Sri Lankans have throughout been ignoring the absolute necessity of an independent Judiciary for a democracy. Corrupt politicians do not educate their followers on this all important subject for their own survival. Just think how many lawyers have become MPs, Ministers, Prime Ministers, Presidents since independence. Except for one or two characters like Colvin R de Silva, Sarath Muttetuwegama, have others done anything significant in streamlining the Judiciary. How many times they have visited the UK? now lawyer Nagananda Kodituwakku says there is a need for a regulatory mechanism for lawyers on par with procedures in the UK. Which dismisses corrupt lawyers. Therefore let us support Nagananda and Ranjan Ramanayake in order to establish a free Judiciary and a legal system sans corrupt judges and lawyers. Long live the Motherland !

  • 0
    0

    Well and true!
    Behavior of the lawyers is despicable!
    They collude together and extend cases so they can skim people!.
    If you have any common sense stay away from Sri Lankan courts!

    Same with police and hospitals! You cannot afford to get sick or justice in SL!

    Ranjan is another dumb arse in the system, But what he says is true.

    Keep it up Naga, This is where the hive is, It appears lot are concerned! (Corrupt lawyers and judges!)

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