18 July, 2019

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Reconciliation: Looking Forward 4 – The Impeachment: The History Of Parliament Acting Judicially

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Dr. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

It is ironic that, having been the only government Member of Parliament to complain over the year of the failure of the Judiciary to administer justice either effectively or efficiently, I seem now to be the only one who thinks impeaching the Chief Justice would be a mistake. This struck me when Ravaya was interviewing me about the matter, which was when I also realized how quickly history is forgotten, and in particular the perversion of justice that this Constitution seems to have entrenched.

My first active political intervention in this country occurred when I resigned from my job with Peradeniya University to protest the manner in which Mrs Bandaranaike’s Civic Rights had been taken away for seven years, the maximum punishment possible under the law. That was the most egregious instance of Parliament acting as a judicial body, and it was a horrifying sight. I can still recall then Prime Minister Premadasa claiming that one reason to punish Mrs Bandaranaike was because she was an example of absolute power corrupting  absolutely. He said this with no sense of irony while nearly 140 government parliamentarians cheered and jeered. The TULF had left the chamber, so Mrs Bandaranaike had barely half a dozen supporters, and the dignity she displayed on that occasion has remained the most impressive of my political memories.

The manner in which Mrs Bandaranaike was condemned shows the perversity of both the judiciary and the legislature. She was tried by members of the judiciary, two Supreme Court judges and one judge of the Court of Appeal, handpicked by President Jayewardene who then claimed that the judgment against her was made by senior judges. Before that he had shown exactly what he thought of judicial independence, in that he had sacked all judges through his new Constitution, and only appointed to the bench those he thought would play ball with him. Thus brilliant intellects such as Noel Tittawella were left out, and characters such as Joe Weeraratne, known to be dim if devoted, made the Bench. President Jayewardene then appointed him to the Special Presidential Commission to try Mrs Bandaranaike.

But worse was to come. Mrs Bandaranaike’s lawyers appealed for a Writ to halt the grindstone, and this was granted. Jayewardene promptly amended his Constitution to prevent such appeals. This provision was made retrospective, which made clear his total contempt for judicial process as well as his own Constitution, which prohibited retrospective legislation. He had indicated earlier that he did not take such matters seriously, in that Mrs Bandaranaike was charged with actions that did not constitute an offence when they were alleged to have been committed.

The Special Presidential Commission was chaired by Justice Sharvananda who was subsequently made Chief Justice, leapfrogging Raja Wanasundara who was renowned for integrity as well as independence. Sharvananda went on to become Governor of a Province, in the first outrageous example of a judge accepting a further office of profit, in effect putting paid to the idea of judges being immune from such temptations.

So Mrs Bandaranaike was found guilty of four charges, with the judges pronouncing on decisions which obviously were the prerogative of the executive. The effrontery with which they presumed to judge how the executive should have responded to an armed insurrection was matched only by the sycophancy with which they found her guilty of a charge pertaining to the treatment of President Jayewardene’s son while he was in prison.

Though she was cleared of the majority of the charges, Parliament decided to go for the maximum penalty possible, namely expulsion from Parliament and deprivation of Civic Rights for 7 years. Jayewardene clearly had no qualms about making it clear that his principal purpose was political, namely to prevent her from standing against him at the next Presidential election, due in 1984 (in fact he later changed the Constitution yet again, in an equally cynical move based on his declining popularity, to enable him to advance the date of the Presidential election, with the ridiculous provision that an incumbent would take office at a later date than any challenger who might have won).

I am not sure if my distaste for impeachment is based on my continuing abhorrence of what Jayewardene did in 1980, and my knowledge of the appalling consequences of such a cynical use of power both for himself and the country. I know quite well that Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Shirani Bandaranayake are very different characters, and that the latter has not behaved with the dignity and the discretion that her position required, even though since the impeachment was mooted she has corrected the worst of her errors. But I do believe that Parliament must be very careful about using powers it has conferred on itself, by law or by Standing Orders, and that justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done, by whatever body sits in judgment.

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Latest comments

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    This is just to show some sort of mild opposition for the regime by a person who have shown ample times that he do no have a spine nor principles.

    Taking JRJ here for the 90% and not doing a comparsion, this spineless man who survive with kissing and cleaning the behind of Rakapaksas for a living have only a complain about the CJ and comparing her to Mrs.B.

    Shame on your Rajiva agin.. CT should have a policy not to entertain these kind of morons in this space.

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    I too think RW is trying to make smarter of his bosses & Co. If he really wanted to comment with bona fide interest, he should not use the term – as if the judgement is already given – such as //that the latter has not behaved with the dignity and the discretion that her position required// without a proved by court (which is an insult to judiciary that can be tried by court in a same manner how SB was treated in the past). And if he is really without fake b–e- he should interpret the politics behind the whole game, instead telling to public whether the curry leaf is thrown to hen or crow.

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    Rajiva, finally you wake from your long slumber and romance with the despotic and corrupt Rajapassa regime! Welcome to the real world!
    The Sri Lanka legislature/ parliament is a DEN OF CORRUPT SCOUNDRELS with a handful of notable exceptions. These filthy politicians who invoke “parliamentary privileges” to protect the abuse that pours from the mouths of the likes of Wimal weerawansa and Dilan Perera who MUST BE FORCED TO RESIGN FOR THE UNACCEPTABLE THINGS THEY SAID TO THE CJ – do not know the first thing about DECENT behaviour.
    Time has come for you to stop complaining about the Judiciary and examine the behavior of the corrupt scoundrels in the parliament who are fattening themselves while the people of Lanka starve, and the most corrupt of them all – Mahinda Rajapassa!

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      Hi Mam, its really confusing. Are we going to target the gun or bullet in this case. Wimal and Dilan can be bullets and the gun and those who shoot may be some one else.
      So what is the way forward?!?!?!? Are we getting angry with bullets? guns? or those who use both?

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    “My first active political intervention in this country occurred when I resigned from my job with Peradeniya University to protest the manner in which Mrs Bandaranaike’s Civic Rights had been taken away for seven years,”

    Wow!!! So what is taking you so long to act against the impunity and excesses of this regime? Instead you act as their mouthpiece – a case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’?!! Stop being a hypocrite and put your money where your mouth is.

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      Peter:
      Are you out of your mind asking this lower form of life to act like a decent human being?
      Incidentally, his money comes from boot-licking and to ask him to do otherwise is not rational.

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    By comparing the victims of elected tyrants, either penalised (Mrs Srimavo Bandaranayake) or intended (Mrs Shirani Bandaranayake) and not the supremos themselves Rajiva Wijesinha has secured his position and everything goes with it. JRJ was charged here with ‘amending the constittion’, ‘expulsion’ of his political opponent ‘from Parliament and deprivation of Civic Rights’ and imposed the UPFA members of Parliament to act as a judicial body to rule that the CJ is guilty to ensure impeachment for the Supreme Court not perverting the course of justice in its ruling on Divinuguma Draft Bill.

    In the above comparison what MR has not done that JRJ was accused of? MR wants judges to serve him and his family. He used the public money to bribe unprincipled MPs of opposition to cross over and appointed greedy people in positions of power to serve himself and his family.

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    Rajiva was once a true liberal as befits the sister’s son of that great man, Bishop Lakshman Wickremasinghe. Unfortunately in recent times he has taken some atrocious positions that I doubt his late uncle or his Liberal Party would have endorsed.

    Now when he is showing a little sense of sanity, we must assume that it is genuine and encourage him.

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      It is difficult to make sense of such doublespeak nor to assume anything, unfortunately, considering the steadfastness with which Rajiva continues to defend tyranny. But I think he knows his days amongst the regime are numbered, and realises it is perhaps better to depart from a position of high moral ground, and hope that, with the passage of time, his support of despotism would be slowly forgotten.

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      S.R.H. Hoole:
      Are you absolutely stupid or are you yet another covering up for those who seek to cover up for this regime?
      All that Rajiva Wijesinha needs is “encouragement!”

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    Prof. Rajiva,

    Thanks for reminding us of an older chapter of our perverse political history.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 0
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      Birds of a feather! All bloody HUMBUGS!

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    RW in the usual manner has got his wires crossed again by trying to compare Mrs, Sirimavo with the CJ. Mrs Sirimavo was a leader of this country and a politician. Her acts & ommissions are well known. After the people of this country decided on her in 1977, she became a victim of the circumstances. The people corrected the wrong done by the then Government in power by putting her back in the reigns although not as the head of State.This is and was politics at play. RW must be observing silently how dirty this game is,may be with a weaker conscions than when he resigned from the University and hanging on to the lot. The Government in this case is playing with the head of the judiciary to see that the backbone of the system is crushed and take control over the rule of law. We are very well aware that you are shedding croc tears to paint a picture that you are different to the other useless ones in the lot. The people know that you too will go down in the history as another puppet.

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    It is such people like RW who call themselves intellectuals and liberals, who being apologists of the current regime by pointing out the wrongs of past regimes, should be responsible for the present Govt. to usurp all forms of justice. They continue to be apologists for their own survival as they have no confidence in their academic achievements.

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    The principled stand taken by Rajiva and the LSSP members Prof. Vitharana, D E W Gunasekera & Vasudeva Nannayakkara is much appreciated by the people of Sri Lanka. They have been deprived of their Democratic & Human Rights by the Rajapakse administration, in their bid to establish a semi-constitutional Dictatorship.

    I hope the protests by the Judiciary, the Bar Association, the Religious leaders, the Commonwealth and the International community will persuade President Rajapakse to appoint an eminent panel of judges. Judges of the calibre of Justice Weeramantry are required to review the PSC proceedings and the verdict.

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      The proof of the pudding is in the eating. So, we must wait to see how Rajiva, Tissa Vitarana, Vasu and DEW finally vote on the impeachment. Making statements is not enough. Hope they don’t repeat what they did with the 18th Amendment.

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      De Mel:
      “The principled stand taken by Rajiva and the LSSP members Prof. Vitharana, D E W Gunasekera & Vasudeva Nannayakkara is much appreciated by the people of Sri Lanka.”
      Did you really say this/ Apart from objecting to CT consistently publishing the Rajiva Wijesinhas of this world, I now have to ask them not to publish your idiocies as well!

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      Their principles are confined only to words and their actions are utter betrayals. Have not got their backbones of their own for anyone else to deprive of their rights. These people jettisoned their rights to enjoy the perks and privileges in the final stages of their lives.

    • 0
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      De Mel You are now a certified idiot

  • 0
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    My question is to Colombo Telegraph- when will this torture of Rajiva Wijesinghe’s series of articles END?

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    RW has never been in one place for long. Univerisity of Peradeniya, St. Thomas’ College, British Council, Universirty of Sri Jayewardenepua, University of Sabaragamua, now the Parliament. There could be many more which I am not sure about.
    He attacks on his uncle JRJ’s constitution. He came to the Parliament thru’ Mahinda Chintanaya which vowed to abolish the Presidential system. People voted for Mahinda Rajapakse and the UPFA because they gave an undertaking that they will abolish the Presidential system and bring back the Parliamentary (Wesminister) System, which he too supported. Was anything done on this promise. He has completely forgotten about it. As one who voted for the 18th amendment he cannot understand and does not recognize that JRJ’s constitution has worsened and dictatorial powers were vested on the President eroding democratic principles further with that amendment. If he is an intellectual and a liberal couldn’t he have seen those as anti-democratic actions. Why did he support that. Why he does he not talk about it and only talks about what happened 34 years back. He does not have a leg to stand after supporting the 18th amendment or for not protesting against it the way he did when Mr. B’s civic rights were withdrawn. Likewise he resigned from the U/Peradniya he should have resigned from the parliament too. Does he think that the 18th amendment has no relevance at all to the current crisis. I see of cause see him as a Charlatan not as an intellectual.

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    Finally a sensible article has been written by Rajiva. Since you are not in agreement with the impeachment of the CJ, the honourable thing for you to do is to resign from the Govt. Bishop Luxman Wickramasinghe will be proud of you.

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    Rajiva:
    You are fortunate in that there appear to be a bunch of people responding to your rubbish which is little but the epitome of hypocrisy who seem to think you’ve been “misled.’ What a f…..g laugh! You epitomise all that is rotten in this Denmark and your father (and Sarath Amunugama) should be proud of you!

  • 0
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    This article is all about white washing what is happening now.

    It is saying that JRJ was a dictator and he ridiculed and abused the system AND, try to make readers think BECAUSE OF THAT, what is happening right now is nothing new.

    What BS.

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    Yes, that was J.R Jayawardena who is responsible for this constitution and the absolute power. The Rule of law and Democracy start fading away since 1978, but there is no shortage of politicians in Sri Lanka. This gentleman is just telling the truth.

  • 0
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    This black ass is parading his boru english as usual!

    I would not waste my time reading the crap of this black englishman who has taken all sorts of position, one that presents his ass for his face!

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