26 May, 2024

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Set Up An Internal Regulatory System For Judges; Don’t Attack Them In Parliament: Lawyers Collective

The Lawyer’s Collective calls for a prompt response to recent allegations of abuse of judicial office against the President of the Court of Appeal by MP Roshan Ranasinghe (Minister of Sports) on 8th November 2023 in Parliament. Any allegation of abuse of office by a superior court judge is a very serious matter. Similarly, undermining orders by a court under the cover of privilege in Parliament without formal complaints is equally very problematic. 

We recognize that corruption and abuse of office have a stranglehold over many institutions of government in Sri Lanka. Actual or even perceived corruption within the judiciary of a country can fundamentally erode democracy and the rule of law. Therefore, it is crucial that expeditious, transparent and robust measures are taken in light of any allegations against a judicial officer to determine if these are true or false, in order to protect the integrity and independence of the judiciary. We remind that the independence of the judiciary is fundamental to protecting the fundamental rights of people and maintaining the sovereignty of the people of Sri Lanka, as guaranteed by Articles 3 and 4(c) of the Constitution.

Apart from a procedure for impeachment, there is no transparent and accountable process in place for disciplinary investigations and actions against judicial officers of the superior courts. Impeachment and removal of a judge of the superior courts is provided for in Articles 107(2) and (3) of the Constitution and Standing Order no. 84. Notice of a resolution must be tabled in Parliament signed by not less than one-third of the total number of Members of Parliament, setting out full particulars of the misbehaviour (Article 107(2) of the Constitution), and the Speaker, in consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, shall appoint a panel of inquiry consisting of three retired Judges of the Supreme Court to investigate the alleged misbehaviour or incapacity of the Judge concerned (Standing Order 84). If the judge is found guilty by the panel, the findings will be presented by the Speaker to Parliament for approval. If a majority of members of Parliament vote in favour of the resolution that determines the judge to be guilty, the Speaker shall forward the resolution to the President for an order to remove the relevant judge. The high threshold for initiating the impeachment procedure must not prevent all allegations from being investigated and addressed. 

The Lawyer’s Collective urges the superior courts to establish an internal regulatory system that addresses ethics and discipline in these Courts whereby the procedure of impeachment by Parliament becomes a measure of last resort. The superior courts must ensure that any allegations are promptly dealt with appropriately and findings made public. This is necessary to safeguard the independence and integrity of the judiciary. Any allegation of conflict of interest or dereliction of duty or misconduct must be subject to a credible investigation that publicly exonerates or confirms guilt.  An internal procedure for addressing such matters is   critically important to create public confidence in the judiciary’s contribution to administration of justice in our country.

The superior courts should also formally promulgate a binding code of conduct and ethics for superior court judges, which was mooted a few years ago.

Best practice dictates that a judge named in allegations in the public domain as having failed to declare a conflict of interest in a case should recuse oneself from the said case until an internal procedure that establishes that there is no such conflict is concluded.

There must be collective support for this from the judiciary itself under the leadership of the Chief Justice. In this instance, the Chief Justice must also ensure that any processes for promotion which may be due for the relevant judge are suspended pending a clearing of allegations or complaints.

We emphasize yet again that appointments made by the President to the superior courts in consultation with the Chief Justice and as approved by the Constitutional Council must be on merit and integrity rather than merely on seniority.

The recent allegations against the President of the Court of Appeal were made on the floor of Parliament by MP Roshan Ranasinghe in the context of stay orders issued by the Court of Appeal suspending an Interim Committee appointed to Sri Lanka Cricket. Whilst this speech is protected from charges of defamation or contempt of court by Parliamentary privilege, it contravenes standing orders 83 (1) which prohibits commentary on the personal conduct of judges except through the tabling of a substantive motion relevant to such conduct.

Upholding the independence of the judiciary requires that members of Parliament act responsibly when they come into custody of information relating to the corruption or abuse of office of a judicial officer. They must refrain from misusing the protection afforded to them by Parliamentary Privilege. 

It is also important to remind lawyers that their interactions with the judiciary are a matter of public concern. Lawyers must not have a hand in questionable practices.

Actual and perceived interference with the exercise of judicial office whilst being criminal and subject to rules of discipline in the legal profession, also amounts to a direct undermining of the rule of law, democracy and the sovereignty of the people.

Rooting out corruption in all institutions, building a political culture that is respectful of the checks and balances between arms of the state, and securing the integrity of the judiciary, are vital to Sri Lanka’s progress – be it economic recovery, strengthening democracy and protecting the interests of the sovereign people of Sri Lanka for the present and the future of this country.

On behalf of the Lawyers’ Collective;

Mr. Upul Jayasuriya, President’s Counsel

Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, President’s Counsel

Professor Savitri Goonesekere, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. Geoffrey Alagaratnam, President’s Counsel

Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran, President’s Counsel

Mr. Dinal Phillips, President’s Counsel

Mr. S.T. Jayanaga, President’s Counsel

Mr. M.M. Zuhair, President’s Counsel

Mr. Lal Wijenayake, Attorney-at-Law

Professor Deepika Udagama

Mr. Upul Kumarapperuma, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. K.W. Janaranjana, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. Harshana Nanayakkara, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. Akalanka Ukwatta, Attorney-at-Law

Ms. Ermiza Tegal, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. Manoj Nanayakkara, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. Amila Egodamahawatta, Attorney-at-Law

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Latest comments

  • 10
    1

    Few of the judges who were in supreme court were blatantly corrupt and should have been expelled and their conduct should have been investigated. Upali Abeyrathna, Mohan Pieris , Asoka Silva and Sarath Silva to name few.
    But majority of the judges did not give independence verdicts to politically affiliated cases and were partial to Government especially to Mahinda Rajpakse Government. Few judges like Shrani Bandranayake was impeached by politician for giving a judgement not favorable to them.
    Some judges had personal and political issues with the accused and given very excessive punishment for the person like Ranjan Ramanayake and few others.
    Judiacial system is corrupt and level of corruption is only secondary the level exercised by politicians.

    Any person who had a case in Sri Lankan courts knows that cases are delayed and documents are displaced in order to get bribes. Lawyers are keeping blind eye to them on millions of times.

    These set of lawyers trying to protect their institution by asking to not to criticize judges in the parliament but I think all public outside the parliament should be able to analyze judgement without personal abuse of judges. If judges conduct is to get personal favor’s , preliminarily assessment should be made and it it is proved they should be criminally prosecuted.

    • 3
      0

      1
      Unfortunately, this is pariah state in today’s so-called world of democracies, a country where democratic rights have been abused as on others, second only to then Mugabe-led Zimbabwe, where a former president placed his hand publicly on the shoulder of a Chief Justice and gestured to woo or woo. Not only the CJ (SN Silva), but also, nothing came from “lawyers collective” or any other CJs or senior law professionals in this regard. They were caught by long slumber comparably similar to “ Amazonian sloths”:

      That is how the lawlessness or better put, Rajapakshe-biased law boundness came into being. So, to my best of knowledge, not only mlechcha and shameless politics practiced by MAHENDRA RAJPAKASHE( also here, his name is falsely cited in lanken press violating “the guidelines of the identity for the citizens” in the island), but also total ignorance of the people and biased judiciary should be made accountable for the deep fall of the nation/country as of today.
      The very stupid president became the darling of the commoners, for having acted “like uneducated street mongers” but in his position as ” elected president”, and for having introduced ” milk rice eating street celebrations” even for any simple gains for the people.-
      tbc

      • 3
        0

        2.

        . No matter the message was X-rayed wrongly, the instant moment of joyful were deliberately kept above aiming at selfish gains. All these were clear to ones with sanity, however, people and media prostitutes did not .

        What are those selfish gains; targeting the vulnerable (poor majority scattered in rural corners) and gullible majority for voter gains in any elections. “Satkaya aka scalf around the neck”, National attire, THICKER PIRITH CHANTED strings around the wrists, SB-Buddhism, CRICKET, fake-attractiveness to artistry are all misleading tactics and gimmicks for twisting the gullible mindset.

        However, it was all to bury the true nature of blood sucking politics.
        # Millions if not billions of taxpayers funds were wastefully abused by the kind of state extravaganz celebrations but with the direct approval of the public then, media fraudsters, did not criticise them being neutral…. that is why MEDIA should also be made respnosible and complicit in that fradulent business run by Rajapakshe….. . And the country s treasury was emptied to the core in that way. I remember how big wastages were carried out in CHOGEM conference. Opposition was made very weak to criticize it then.. Some european leaders criticised it pointing finger at Rajapkshes, however, this was misinterpreted by Rajapkashe-baised media networks within the country.

        tbc

        • 3
          0

          3.
          The very same popular president was also seen doing even more of the kind of gestures with Drug kinpins or barrons or any law levels men in lanken artistry or their gathering targeting their fanbases. what happened to those SO CALLED INTERLEECTUALs of the nation, who was then behaving like being caught by hibernation mode ?

          Nevertheless, people (average) were not convinced the danger before them. Now it is too late, time passed, people were fallen to no-go levels, and are slowly being able to see the trickery being practised by Medamulana Beasts. Media WHORES and mlechcha MEDIA frausters, painted it as ” PEOPLE s president” attributes. That is how UNPrs, JVPrs and all ohter parties were thrashed away but POHOTTUWA rascals dominated.
          .
          They intended to easily warp Gallery minds for more vote returns. Distorting the mindset of the gallery will result in more votes. The ignorant Rajapaksas praised any low-level, short-sighted action to stay in power.

          tbc

          • 3
            0

            4
            I could not believe my eyes, as an expatrate srilanken I was forced to do so, the former president did not have the brain to see that this misery for the nation and the country would not end. Why did the people fall for the easiest scams done by the dead Rajapaksa? Answer: People are also to blame and they don’t care about norms and ethics.
            The best examples are those who still worship KOTUWA and MANGALARAMA hamuduruwos. What should go through their heads when those adherents go and listen to those monks ?Tele dramas, songs and movies were tools to brainwash the nation. The media, artists, biased Sinhala Buddhist monks and politicians are the ones who did this vicious cycle.

            Non-stop fun for a moment, but the message a leader should send by example was not in his sneakiness. It is simply being tastless about sensitive issues of the people. Although our leaders of the past had some kind of interwoven bond about respect and dignity in life, Rajapaksa broke them like a “bull in a china shop”.
            And we have never seen such “treacherous, racist, promoting racism and Sinhala-Chanuism” behavior by anyone, not even Premadasa, who was much cursed at the end of his life. Those who have been caught up in it for so long now see the nakedness of the Sinhalese racist dominant nation.

        • 0
          0

          LM,
          Whatever said and done, personally believe that all cricketers should go for prayers at respective religious places of their choice before start of each match they play!!!?? If overseas venue SLC to arrange ZOOM/VIDEO call to enable them to do so!!!
          They will all test Matches and we would be SUPREME cricketers undoubtedly!!!??
          RR. then would ponder, what next to ‘tamper with his fidgety fingers’!!!
          Buddham Saranang Gachchami!!!

    • 2
      0

      Over 100 articles may have been written about the Law’s delays and the sufferings undergone by litigants. I would not like to repeat the same except to request those interested in the conduct of the judiciary as a whole to read the following article which appeared in the Colombo Telegraph: “Judging the Judges” by K.Anaga dated 15/8/20, “Contempt of Litigants” by K.Balendra on22/1/20 and the comments to it by Dr. Damith Wickramanayake-Associate Professor, University of Technology Jamaica. Also, I would like to refer to the other articles by K.Balendra in the Colombo Telegraph commencing from the year 2015, which is based on his own experience in the Supreme Court.

    • 2
      0

      “Upholding the independence of the judiciary requires…………. ….They must refrain from misusing the protection afforded to them by parliamentary privilege” true. Similarly, the Judges must refrain from Judicial Protection and rush to charge the litigants for contempt of court as in the case of Ranjan Ramanayake. If there is no fear of contempt the litigants may come out with various allegations against the Judiciary most of which may be true.

    • 5
      0

      Jack, not to forget SC judge Eva . W having tea and snacks after work, with Appachi at his official residence. He told media, they were” just friends” catching up after a long day of work. Lanka’s F—– low and odor.

  • 10
    1

    Just get rid of Ranil …… everything will be fixed. …….. Ranil, the great democrat, is the instigator of these attacks on judges: the good ones – not the partial ones who give verdicts dictated by Ranil.

    He is carrying on a great family tradition …….Plato says, Ranil’s uncle JR stoned judges’ houses! :))))))

    Ranil’s cousin Native ……. still carries those gal-thalum on his head: can’t think straight when it comes to Ranil …… if not, he is an excellent thinker with a heart in the right place.

    Lanka’s tragedy in a nutshell ……… the partiality of the morals/ethics-setters they can’t overcome: it’ bad if your man does it ……. it’s good if my man does it.

    Life goes on ……. and the grave is yet another day nearer.

    Then everyone live happily ever after.

    • 6
      1

      From Bandarawela – Please pardon my recent relative silence. I’m older than Ranil Wickremasinghe, but whilst he is either air-borne or chauffeur-driven, I have to manage with public transport – buses and trains, and when in these hills on my Honda CM 125 which I have nursed for thirty-two years. I don’t know who nimal fernando is, but I respect him for his consistency. For all his inspired clowning, he gets his points across effectively.
      .
      Yes, he’s quite right! Get rid of Ranil, and then the honest judges will at last be able to tell the truth, wording it more carefully than I can.
      .
      A few days ago, the VishramikaGambadaIngirisiIskoleMahaththaya spilled a few typos on to these pages; nimal pounced on them in kindly fashion and rightly identified the problem as my being half asleep when writing some comments.
      .
      However, nimal knows the difference between typos (which he often makes because he writes so much), and errors.
      .
      Jack, excellent opening comment; two trivial errors. There is a difference between “few” and “a few“.
      .
      https://grammar.collinsdictionary.com/english-usage/what-is-the-difference-between-few-and-a-few
      .
      Please Google for more examples.
      .
      Also, not “independence verdicts“, but independent.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V)

  • 7
    0

    Set Up An Internal Regulatory System For Judges; Don’t Attack Them In Parliament: Lawyers Collective.

    Why only internal regulatory system? System or committee of regulation for corruption in judiciary should represented by elected members of parliament and representative from general public as well

  • 3
    0

    Mullativu judge has to flee the country. Mervyn doctor warned them if anyone try to stop building vihara he will comes with heads to Kelaniya. Dr Weerasekara too

    • 0
      0

      Cugan,
      “Anyone tries to stop building vihara he will come with heads to Kelaniya. Dr Weerasekara too”
      Did or have they gone in Pursuit of Mullaitivu Judge????

  • 6
    2

    This is typical of the fundamental dishonesty of Sri Lankan lawyers.

    These chaps who appear before these judges are shouting that the judges must be protected ! Sure to get all judgements in their favour !

    Look at the houses these lawyers have built , the cars they drive, you think they are honest ? What is the plight of the millions of litigants , forever going from court to court and after about 20 years of litigation, end up totally exploited by the legal system and bankrupt !

    There cannot be just one small segment in this sick society that is different-lawyers ( Mohan peiris) doctors( padeniya,) or any other community different to the rest, all are Rajapaksa/ranil types, waiting hungrily for an opportunity.

    • 1
      0

      “What is the plight of the millions of litigants”!!??
      They keep Lawyers well-lubricated to enjoy!!??

  • 6
    1

    The judges did not fall from the sky. They are lawyers who are paid a salary with our tax money to decide cases based on two sets of arguments. In this 21 Century it is stupid to call them gods etc.

    At least when politicians do something wrong we can vote against them. With a judge we have to wait till he is very old and retires. It is far worse to have judges like Sarath Silva, Mohan Peiris , Asoka Silva, or Lakshman Karunaratne lording over us. Yes these two penny guys from a bankrupt country call themselves lordships ! Did you know that ? Sarath S, Asoka S ,Mohan P, Karunaratne are all Lords ! ( Lord is a British title )

    Even that former CJ Shirani Bandarnayake ( her ladyship) influenced the then president Mahinda to have her husband appointed as chairman of a state Bank.

    In that Sovereign Bond case, the main actor Ranil, the man who appointed the Governor, the monetary board, protected the governor and the governors life -long partner, the man who gave minutes of the monetary board to Aloysius, was not found fault with. The then AG, present CJ handled Ranil’s case personally. He was duly rewarded

    Our judges threaten and punish any citizen who criticizes them. So every Sri Lankan prays 5 times a day- “Our judges are honourable and just” !!

    That is how oppressive Sri Lankan judiciary is.

    • 6
      3

      “In this 21 Century it is stupid to call them gods etc. “
      Who does?
      But I know plenty who worship the Rajapaksas.

      • 4
        3

        SJ ,dont you know the common language ? The judges them selves say crazy things like that they are doing god’s work !

        Because they sit on a high platform the stupid Sri Lankans think they are high by nature !

        As to the Rajapaksa worship ,I think it is mainly because they destroyed the LTTE which other jokers like Ranil, JR ,Chandrika said we never could .

        Also in South Asia there is a tendency to raise leaders to a holy level. It happened to even Prabkaran , a common smuggler . It will happen to Wijeweera, too.

        The problem is with the people in that part of the world-stupid.

        Meanwhile what is God up to ? making more opium for the masses !

        • 1
          2

          My response was to a rather impertinent remark.

  • 1
    0

    There should be a “Retired Peer Review System” for all decisions made by the Judges. This could be managed independently headed by a Retired Supreme Court Judge or even better by a Retired Diaspora Judge and such a report can be given to the Chief Justice. If we have such a system then that would control biased decisions given by the Judges and it will allow the Chief Justice to take action against those errant Judges. Let us be progressive.

    Over to you Wijedasa Rajapakshe.

    • 0
      0

      Buddhist1,
      “and it will allow the Chief Justice to take action …..”
      Aren’t you forgetting that there were Chief Justices called Sarath Silva and Mohan Pieris? Neither of them is in jail, as far as I know.

      • 2
        0

        Old Codger, Yes those crooks are well known to everyone. If there is a Peer review system in place their decisions would have been exposed much earlier.

      • 1
        0

        oc
        People get sentimental either way.
        When they think that SC gave a fair verdict it is all praise and when it is considered an unfair verdict it is all abuse.
        What we have is a system that is frail and vulnerable to the whims and fancies of individuals.

        • 1
          0

          SJ,
          True. Mostly emotive than Rational!!

      • 0
        0

        OC,
        GOD ONLY KNOWS AS CJ’S!!??

    • 0
      0

      Buddhist 1 , Wijedasa R did excellent job absorbing SAITM into KDU. Then his brain got extreme thoughts. I saw a poem on web “We laughed and cried and nearly died. We cannot stay, we must not stay as reconciliation came from another shore. (WR) We carry fragrant memories of our times together, things we shared, stethoscopes aquired, lasting friendships too. We can no longer stay, now comes the parting of the ways. Adieu, farewell SAITM, until some day we meet again.

      • 3
        0

        Davidthegood,
        I do not think Wijedasa is a clean politician. He is an opportunist. In the recent past, every single bill he has presented to the Parliament has been judged by the Supreme Court to have violated the Constitution. He has also been changing his colors based on which side of the parliament well he is seated. He cannot be trusted.

        • 0
          0

          B1
          “He is an opportunist.”
          That is rather kind of you.

        • 1
          0

          Buddhist1
          You are right, Wijedasa is one the most unprincipled politicians in the country . He is the one, as Minister of Justice, who derailed the Avant Garde case. He has mastered the art of survival in any government.

          • 1
            0

            OC,
            How come??
            He is a servile Sinhala Buddhist who follows the precepts of Prince Siddhartha – The Gautama – in totality without exception!!!??? Unlike others, converted Christians, including the namesake, The Messiah from the Neighbouring local village, in the land of DEVUNDARA/DEVI NUWARA!!!???
            Unbelievable, SEEMS, Poisonous SNAKES in the Grass!!!??? Beyond EXPECTATION from LEGAL EAGLE presumably his is!!?
            The “Sole Architect” of the “Powers that be” to ensure, Draft Statutes, requires review By Supreme court EVERYTIME, then after the ruling, seemingly introduced to Parliament “as per SC Ruling – devoid of all Infringing Sections to Constitution”!!!??? Is this FAIR call, ‘MISTAKE IN DRAFTING THE LAW’ by LD – NO sacking LD -!!!??? OR is it Machinations, Political SKULLDUGGERY, to RE-INTRODUCE DISPICABLE sections at the 2nd reading, vote and pass as LEGITIMATE Law, undermining SC and sovereign people of SL!!!???
            If the latter is the truth, this politician should be ear-marked be DUMPED next elections? NAY!??
            ALL THAT DEPENDS SOLELY ON THE ERUDITION AND EMANCIPATION OF VOTERS!!??
            He is a ‘Proclaimed Sinhala Buddhist’, who enjoys Religious “SUPREMACY”, constitutionally, therefore EXCEPTION, Patriot, who cannot inflict any harm whatsoever!!!? Elected Notwithstanding!
            Past experience, the scenario would not change for the better!!!??? SCUMBGS TO ROOST!!

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