In a landmark judgment delivered on Wednesday, the Supreme Court ordered the Colombo University to absorb Fathima Shanaz as a lecturer within the next two months, after university authorities reportedly refused to appoint her in 2011 on allegedly grounds of her ethnicity even though she obtained the highest score at the interview.
Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon told the Colombo Telegraph that everyone underwent a dark era in the past, where everything was suppressed and there was an increased presence of racism in the country which also affected the university system.
“But I am happy to announce that we have achieved a landmark victory yesterday, and this has been possible because of the independent judiciary in the country at present,” he said.
Fathima Shanaz said; “I state that there was no reason for the 28th Respondent (Ajantha Hapuarachchi) to make any statement against me. I am now aware that the 2nd Respondent Vice Chancellor (Prof. (Mrs.) Kshanika Hirimburegama) had expressed her displeasure in appointing a Muslim as a lecturer (Probationary) to the 1st Respondent University. At this stage the, the 27th Respondent had informed the 2nd Respondent that as far as he is aware my mother of is a Sinhalese Kandyian. In fact, a few days after the interview, the 28th Respondent had made inquiries from me about my parents and I explained to the 28th Respondent that both my parents were Muslims.”
In the ruling, Judges of the Supreme Court, Eva Wanasundera and Upaly Abeyratne stated that the Management Committee and the University Council of the Colombo University had deliberately withheld the appointment of the Petitioner, Fathima Shanaz who had been selected for the post of Lecturer (Probationary) of the Journalism Unit, and had therefore violated the fundamental rights of her.
“I hold that the University of Colombo; the Management Committee of the University of Colombo; and the Council of the University of Colombo have violated the fundamental rights of the Petitioner guaranteed by Article 12(1) of the Constitution. I order the University of Colombo, The Management Committee of the University of 8 Colombo and Council of the University of Colombo to appoint the Petitioner to the post of Lecturer (Probationary) Journalism Unit of the University within two months from the date of this judgment,” the ruling stated.
The full text of the judgment of the Supreme Court is available here