The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has released data under the Right to Information Act indicating that an enormous number of 230 complaints have been filed against Quazi judges in Sri Lanka between the years 2012-2017.
The data was revealed in response to a directive of the Right to Information (RTI) Commission last month, Muslim activists told the Colombo Telegraph. The Commission comprises M Gammampila (Chair) & RTI Commissioners Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, SG Punchihewa, Rohini Walgama and Chelvy Thiruchandran. The directive was issued following an RTI appeal filed at the Commission asking for the number and nature of complaints received against Quazi judges in the year 2016 and those ongoing as at November 2017. Also asked were certified copies of all decisions against Quazi judges in the period 2012 to 2016.
The requested information had been refused by the JSC saying that this would affect the authority and independence of the judiciary. The RTI Commission then issued an order stating that statistical data may be released under the RTI Act without prejudice being caused to the judicial institution.
On the data now in the hands of Colombo Telegraph, the JSC has stated that, out of the 230 complaints received, 190 complaints have been ‘resolved’ by the JSC with 40 complaints ‘not resolved.’ Data as to the specific nature of the complaint and the decision taken was refused to be disclosed by the JSC.
The functioning of Quazi courts in Sri Lanka has led to criticism by activist groups which say that a huge number of irregularities occur in the system, particularly where women are concerned. Women are traditionally not permitted to function as Quazi judges even though many writers have argued that this prohibition is against Islamic teaching.
This release of data is the first instance that the JSC has consented to give information about the disciplinary processes of judges. In some past instances, judges themselves have protested at being dismissed or disciplined without knowing the basis. It is a positive first step though the system has to be radically reformed, activists told Colombo Telegraph.