18 November, 2017

Sil Redda – A Historic Judgement 

By Cassian M Fernando

Cassian M Fernando

The decision of the two judges of the High Court of Colombo regarding the misuse of public funds for the election campaign of Mahinda Rajapaksa in many ways is an epoch making historical  judgment. Firstly It was the first time that a high ranking public servant in this country, the Secretary to the Executive President was found guilty and sentenced to serve a period of three years rigorous imprisonment. In addition a fine and also a decision to repay the 60 Million rupees lost in the process to the government. Secondly it was also the first major judgment delivered on many cases that are being investigated by the FCID an institution that was established for investigating cases of bribery and corruption. This is indeed a very healthy precedent and should be followed irrespective of political loyalties. It is not all public servants who behave in  this fashion About 10 percent of them yield to the pressures exerted on them by those in power. The judgment will serve as a shield to the public servants to desist from giving into the pressures  exerted on them by the politicians, at least in the future.

Mr Lalith Weeratunga or Mr Anusha Pelpita were not Presidential candidates. They committed these acts of gross corruption on behalf of the Presidential Candidate Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa. As a matter of fact they acted as agents for the candidate Mr Mahinbda Rajapaksa. The fact of committing a serious  act of corruption has now being established by the decision of the High Court. The 6 million dollar question was raised by a JVP spokesmen who asked the penitent question whether  a case will be filled against Mr Mahinda Rajapalsa for commuting an election offense. Whether a candidate wins or loses if he commits an act of bribery or corruption  he faces the consequence of being taken to task by the law enforcing authorities. if found guilty the punishment spelled out in the legislation is that  such a person stands to lose his civic rights for a period of seven and half years from the date of such judgment

It is no wonder therefore that Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa rushed to meet his bosom friend Ranil Wickremesinghe no sooner the judgment was delivered. Will a citizen take the bold step of filling a petition in the supreme courts seeking that civic rights of Mr Mahinda Rajapakasa be removed as he has being found guilty of committing an election offence. 

Having met his friend with whom it has been alleged that he has already entered into a deal to prevent legal action being taken against him on many charges that were leveled, he used his usual form of duplicity by making a TV statement that the government of Sri Lanka has for the first time found someone guilty for  performing a meritorious religious act of distributing Sil Cloth. People of this country are not fools. The judgment was not against performing a meritorious act of distributing Sil Clothes to the devoted ladies but doling out not less than 60 million rupees  of public funds during an election to boost the candidature of one of the contestants at the last presidential elections. .

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Latest comments

  • 5
    0

    Misappropriated amount is not 60 million it is 600 million.

    • 1
      0

      An Indian would have said, “60 crores”.

      A problem that keeps cropping up because lakh and crore are the Indian (and Sinhalese, probably Tamil, too) systems for counting large amounts.

      American and British “billion” used to be different, but the American seems to have prevailed: 1000, 000, 000. Is that correct?

      • 0
        0

        1000 – Thousand
        1௦௦௦௦௦௦ – Miliean
        1௦௦௦௦௦௦௦௦௦ – Biliean
        1000000000000 – Driliean

    • 6
      0

      CT
      Could you wipe that smug look off prisoner Anusha Palpita’s (V18068) face.
      Thanks.

      Does prisoner Lalith Weeratunga (V18069) feel like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi after being sentenced to prison, standing up to foreign power?

    • 5
      0

      Lalith W has said that he only followed MR’s orders. There is no law that the Secretary to the President should ‘blindly’ follow all the orders of the President. Only a coward can say that as an excuse.

      Normally Secretary to the President is a senior Civil Servant with long term experience who is fully conversant with financial and other government rules/regulations. His job is to guide the President. Aiding/abetting MR to violate Financial Regulations is unacceptable. When Presidents/PMs say something, some officials who want to ‘score marks’ jump and tell them that they will somehow do it without telling them that it is a violation of regulations. That is not right. If someone wants to ruin the boss, yeah, that is the best way to do it. So Presidents/PMs should be very careful about “yes-men”.

      People say MR was arrogant in his second term who didn’t care about FR or any Redda. As a Civil Servant with over 40 years’ experience, Lalith W should have known how to make his boss see reason. Being his Secretary, he should have told MR that “distributing Sil Redi from public funds during election time” was wrong. He could have been adamant and refused to release such a huge amount. MR will get angry, so what, maximum, he will fire LW. Who cares, he will go home with his head high and MR will go home with his head down.

      Some say MR didn’t listen to anybody. Arrogant bosses need arrogant Secretaries. Cowards have no guts to tell the boss he is wrong. Being a servile and bending before MR like a bow only made Lalith W lost the pride of his and the government service. No wonder MR didn’t listen to him. Who would listen to a coward?

  • 4
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    I’m sorry to say there are show off case to deceive public…These fraud are peanuts ..you try punish weak and feeble while big looters are outside ..
    I feel sorry for these two .
    but if all looted money come back it would many times more and more..billions of public money is taken..
    where is justice .
    where is law and order

  • 4
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    Evidently, the two convicts had acted as agents for Mahinda Rajapakse. I don’t know how the Legal system in Sri Lanka works . Isn’t ” the ex- Excellency” VICARIOUSLY LIABLE for the offences committed by his agents? . Someone with sufficient legal knowledge, please clarify..
    Mr. Cassian Fernando and other commentators! Do us a favour. Please do some PROOF-READING before sending out your articles for publication. Thanks.

  • 2
    1

    “People of this country are not fools. The judgment was not against performing a meritorious act of distributing Sil Clothes to the devoted ladies but doling out not less than 60 million rupees of public funds during an election to boost the candidature of one of the contestants “

    Old King has said that he gave that order. He says giving cloths from government money to Bhikkhus is accepted procedure under the “Special Status to Buddhism”. Will Yahapalanaya accept or deny this through a minister? Or is the Yahapalanaya is just going tell that is only Old King’s opinion, not the Yahapalanaya’s?

    Punishing Lalith sounds like only a political revenge, not justice. Lalith was only a secretary of a ministry of Old King. Old King was the presidential candidate; Not Lalith. Now without any reservations Old King has said that he issued the order. If Yahapalanaya doesn’t have guts to take Old King to court, they should release Lalith from their condemnation of Lalith for three years hospitalization.

    Another development is Prisons & Rehabilitation Minister Swami has said that they get three doctor’s opinion before send a prisoner to hospital. Come man! What a comedy Swami is talking! Do we need “Foreign and Commonwealth Doctors and Nurses” to check these prisoners if they really need medical care in future? Will the UNHRC pass “RESOLUTION 36/1” so Lankawe can co-sign that too? Can these Sinhala Intellectual Professionals do any job honestly? Shameless Comedians, the Yahapalanaya Ministers, who are lying on anything and everything!

  • 2
    4

    I think between Jan 2015 and Aug 2015 many such offences were committed under the watch of President Sirisena. Let us investigate.
    Soma

    • 4
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      somass ji

      “Let us investigate.”

      Lets do it. I am right behind you.
      Could you list all those offences you think the rulers, state functionaries, police, and armed forces have had committed since May 1970.

  • 8
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    These two officials never even in their dreams ever thought Mahinda Rajapaksa will lose the election. This self-confidence prevented them from thinking the consequences of carrying out an illegal order. This is a lesson for other public servants. They should tell their bosses that “sorry I cannot obey illegal orders.” If pressed further write a minute in the file “I am carrying out the order under protest. I should not be blamed for the consequences.

  • 7
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    Yes, by implication of the judgement, an election offense has been committed. The link is the statement that the TRC monies were taken as a ‘loan’ since funds in the presidential fund were not sufficient. This is in addition to Lalith Weeratunga being president’s secretary. He was only the agent. Therefore, the former president is directly implied and the act was not an independent offense. MR has argued in defence that what is wrong in distributing Sil Redi as it is a meritorious act! This argument is already rejected in the judgement. I appreciate Mr. Cassian Fernando raising this issue. A graduate from Peradeniya he was my teacher at St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa. He became a lawyer later. His wisdom and sincerity cannot be disputed.

    • 0
      0

      Dr. LK, can you enlighten us as to whether it would have been an offence if committed (using 900m TRC funds for Sil redi distribution) in a normal time away from elections?
      Soma

      • 3
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        Soma, Yes, it is wrong if public funds meant for one purpose were used for another purpose. If it is used for political purposes, it is completely wrong. Whether it is a punishable offense would depend on the law. Let me give you a small example. During 2004, when I was the Director of the Peace Building Project (Ministry of Constitutional Affairs) I was requested to give funds for some youth activities in Hambantota, not related to peace building. I politely declined.
        Let me also reveal briefly how these people worked, discriminately and with vengeance. When I had to go under heart procedure in December 2008 at Navaloka (not Singapore!), my application for the presidential fund was declined. That time I was a Professor (UC) and also the Director of the NCAS (under UGC), and as a citizen, I was entitled for assistance. Mr. Lalith Weeratunga sent me a long letter saying that my application was late, but also politely implying that it was a decision by the President. (That is why I presumed in my earlier comment that ‘he was only an agent’ even in the Sil Redi case in my opinion). This is on record. Was I late? Not really. It is a long story to relate and if I do so, I have to bring two other prominent names to the picture. This is the first time I divulge this story. It was irrespective of this personal discrimination, I supported MR to get the terrorists defeated, but not at all to sanction any ‘war crimes’ or suppress the Tamil people.

        • 2
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          Laksiri Fernando

          “Mr. Lalith Weeratunga sent me a long letter saying that my application was late, but also politely implying that it was a decision by the President. “

          Yet you propose conferring of honorary doctorates in 2009 to the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa. What did make you to bestow honour on a heinous man and his brother?

          I suspect it was your Sinhala/Buddhist little nationalism which stopped you from liberal ideals.

        • 2
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          Tamil stood for their rights. Learned Professor named them as Terrorist. He named Leader Pirapaharan as Terrorist because Pirapaharan took arms to fight against the Sinhala Buddhist terrorism unleashed on Tamils from 1956. Professor never agreed with CM, CV and named him as Terrorist. He named TNA and Federal Party as terrorist parties for their Federalism stand. He still is not ready to agree the Constitution should be amended in that way Tamils can have their rights. The learned racist is one in the gang who explain Federalism as separation to pump up racism for their political advantage.

          Old King was a man who had been already implicated in murders from young age. He was a terrorist and he participated in JVP activities. BBS has recorded his talks on that. (JVP was a terrorist organization who tried to over throw a people elected government, but LTTE was fighting only for its people rights, not to over throw any government.) He was implicated in massive looting and Chief Justice wrongly cleared him. Anybody who was part of the Muslim-Sinhala government ruling that time was aware of it. Chandrika tried her best to keep him away. Well knowingly his power struggle Geneva trip was portrayed as a humanitarian. It was the communists liars like the Joint Comedies that time too presentenced him as an underdog.

        • 0
          0

          An owner of the Alsatian dog purposefully sent out his dog to tear off the neighbor’s child. Now his explanation is he was not aware that his dog bites anybody. The Learned Professor is shamelessly pretending like that he was not aware of who the Old King was or he did not have any internal information about his administration style until he fell apart with him well after 2009 for his personals reasons. Now, he is claiming he did not support war crime but had internal information of what was going on. This is what you call Hypocrisy at its peeks. (Unlike Hakeem who went to see the Sinhala Cinema supporting actresses in Geneva Hotels, I think time for the Learned Professor to go to UNHRC’s 36 sitting and tell all the internal information he has about the Genocide without witness, and cleans his sins for being part of the Genocide government.)

          Here, Lalith is becomes sincere in telling that he carried out his bosses orders in learned Professor’s explanation because learned professor’s application for his Presidential fund was refused by Old King. What an explanation!

          I am willing to accept Lalith may be sincere in discharging duties, but can somebody tell me whether it was presidential secretary or the Defense Secretary’s secretary was running the white van gang to pick and murder those who differed or dissented with Old Royals? These all guys who were/are part and parcel of the most notorious government ever appeared on the earth.

          Soma like Sinhala Extremist behaves like now because they seek and get enlightenment by this type of preaching.

  • 3
    0

    All the MPs who sold duty free car permits and earned millions should be charged for misusing public funds.

    Charge President Rajapakse and strip his civic rights. Also strip Ranil’s civic rights for his role in Batalanda torture chamber case.

    Raanil is misusing public funds to bribe MPs. Latest move is to give Rs. 100,000 monthly for MPs to run an office. MP will use a room in his house as an office and appoint his wife or daughter as secretary and pay a thumping salary. Whose money he is using?

  • 1
    0

    I can see by studying the photo carefully that Lalith Weerathunge’s body is burning hot with humiliation, in a large part caused by being manacled and marched in full public view! Maybe he deserved it, but I think that generally speaking, the police should not employ unwarranted force on persons who are suspected, charged or convicted of offenses or crimes; neither should they subject them to unnecessary humiliation.

    I am sure both of the convicted persons would have accompanied the police peacefully if they had been asked to do so. Neither of them had resisted arrest and it is extremely unlikely that they would have attempted to escape and evade the police. They had more or less cooperated with the authorities throughout the inquiries and court procedures so what was the need to handcuff them?

    Handcuffing a person is a serious assault on that person’s body, soul and spirit and should be employed only as a last resort. The highhanded procedure of routinely handcuffing persons who have no record of behaving violently or are extremely unlikely to do so or attempt to escape should be condemned very strongly by civilized society. I am sure the police can judge the tendencies of the accused or convicted parties to a nicety and should therefore treat that person accordingly.

    • 1
      0

      I agree with your analysis of the body language of Lalith Weeratunga, but what you get from Anusha Pelpita is quite different. Actually, many sites carried the 90 second video from which this photograph may have been excerpted.

      *

      I, too, feel some sympathy for Weeratunga, but let’s not make such an issue of it. As most commenters say he should have known better than to carry out an illegal order.

      *

      What is much more important is this: What is being done to MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA, who wanted it done, and for a reason that is clear to us all? Since Weeratunga doesn’t appear to have taken any of the money for himself, the sentence given him is reasonable (there was earlier comparison with 8 years given to a lady Principal).

      *

      RAJAPAKSA must be given AT LEAST 5 YEARS rigorous imprisonment (age being taken in to account). If not, what signal are we giving the world? The corruption starts with the politicians; if the present government allows this Weeratunga imprisonment to stand, without more severely punishing the man who gave the order, then we must conclude that there are DEALS among POLITICIANS.

      *

      In this instance, more than Sirisena, it is Ranil W. who seems to be mollycoddling the Rajapaksas, so that the Bond Scam should not be traced back to him by a future administration.

  • 1
    0

    Cassian M Fernando ~ “Sil Redda – A Historic Judgement”
    Equally important is the way the prosecution presented the case. This is historic indeed.
    The question is: What made the prosecution to suddenly realise what they should be doing. Will they continue to do what they did in future cases too?
    The judgement is Phase 1. Appeals are yet to come. Importantly will the Sangha approve the sentences?.

    • 0
      0

      The Mahanayaka from the Sangha recently told CM Wiggy that the Army cannot be removed let alone even reduced in the North nor any land occupied land released.

      That’s like telling him because you have two eyes and two kidneys there is nothing wrong in giving an eye and a kidney to someone whose both eyes and kidneys are diseased.
      Let us wait to see what happens when this matter come’s to the Appeal Court.

      • 0
        0

        There is no need to wait. The verdict of the Appeal Court is predictable by looking at the drama going on. They will be found not guilty. Anybody can see that there were loopholes in the judgement by oversight or by design I don’t know. Even some words used therein were like consoling the convicts.

        By looking at the way even some government Ministers lamenting of the accused, one can wonder as to why they actually filed this case.

        This is only to hoodwink people that government files cases against MR’s cohorts, but they actually are not serious in punishing them. One can enjoy raking wounds until they are released and there will be fireworks of joy by both sides. Corrupt protecting corrupt. Some thought this is a good lesson to public servants. This is fools paradise.

      • 1
        0

        Uthungan


        “Let us wait to see what happens when this matter come’s to the Appeal Court.”

        You know former Chief justice Sarath Nanda Silva is still alive and kicking who is ready and willing to help Dr Mahinda at any time. Need any legal advice please contact him. Brilliantly corrupted legal brain.

  • 0
    0

    Thanks For All the comments
    Wimal weera wansa has come up with a theory that will win him the noble prize. He says in his web that Lalith knew that MR was losing and in order to get 600000 votes of the female devotees he used 600000 millions to purchase Sil cloth
    I am advised that MR may get away by using the defense that any legal action against him is TIME BARRED Election petitions must be filed within 90 days from the date of the gazette publishing the results But this is a different ball game. A judgement has been made by the High court finding that 600000 million rupees of state funds were used for the election campaign of MR We will wait and see I am confident some citizen will take this matter to courts
    Cassian M Fernando

    • 2
      0

      Being TIME BARRED would likely apply only in an election on grounds of mass impersonation, collusion by Returning Officer and by staff under him during elections and the like.
      But in this case corruption took place before the election to deliver an unfair advantage for the benefit of a contestant like the President also who exercises control of the state’s coffers and utilising it for his political campaign during the interregnum period is a different kettle of fish.Time limit may not apply in such an instance.
      I believe that only if a PIL is launched, will a court first decide if it is TIME BARRED or not before looking at the evidence presented and then decide, that corruption caused a benefit for the contestant to win to confirm a guilty verdict.

  • 2
    0

    Some refer to Lalith Weeratunga (LW) as a respectable civil servant. The history says otherwise. When MR was a PM and LW his Secretary Rs 190 Mn of Tsunami funds were transferred to MR sisters account. This Helping hambantota case LW avoided jail because CJ Sarath Silva ingtervened and threatened the State Counsel. Later Sarath Silva stated he regreted his action. If LW was honest he could have reported the MR pressure at the time to President Chandrika. Instead LW was a willing partner in the crime.
    LW also came on TV election time and praised the work of MR. This is disgraceful and illegal as a civil servant. Then 2015 Presidential election a TV program was recorded “Janapathi Oba Amathai” to be aired 2 days before the election, which was banned by the Election Commissioner. This program later aired by TNL shows MR, LW, RDA Secretary, Gamini Senarath, Port Secetary etc with selected Journalists. The objective was to challenge the corruption allegation. In that program LW challenges all the MR corruption allegations and says ” all these corruptions allegations are untrue. We the public servants handle all Govt fund disbursements and we will not allow corrupt activites. Pity this tape was not played at the sil redi trial.
    It is the same LW who illegally transferred the Sri Lankan airlines girl to Namal “office” and paid a huge salary. Same LW who allowed thew misuse of 2000 vehicles under the Presicdential Secretariat- some 750 vehicles still missing

  • 1
    0

    The tax guys now need to raise a tax assesment on MR on the 600 m he received as a benefit. At least let this crooked bastard contribute some revenue towards the budget deficit. Stripping him of civic rights is a must. If the benefit of 600m is not taxable the amount must be fully recovered as a loan.

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