18 June, 2021

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The CJ And The Prisoners Come Under The Same Law

By Bishop Duleep de Chickera

Bishop Duleep de Chickera

The move to impeach the Chief Justice (CJ) and the prison riot at Welikada in which a number of prisoners died, have aroused considerable public interest over the recent past. The Government’s reactions and actions have come under the scrutiny of the people in what seems like an unofficial referendum. But public interest and scrutiny must be sustained consistently if the Judge and the judged are to receive the justice they are both entitled to.

Different but equal

The persons connected with these happenings belong to two very different worlds. One is a prominent figure holding very high public office; the others are a mass of faceless and excluded persons. One interprets the law and dispenses justice; the others have been judged and sentenced under this same law. One has access to the best legal advice, skills and competence; the others are deprived of such resources.
On principle however, the CJ and the prisoners come under the same law and must be equally protected from any distortion of justice. Ironically, it is the judicial power that the one commands that makes her a threat; and the social powerlessness that the others convey that make them dispensable. But justice requires that neither this power nor this powerlessness should be allowed to work to their disadvantage.

The responsibility to  act justly

The Circumstances surrounding the impeachment of the CJ are worrying. Most of the fourteen charges could have been raised long before, but were not. Something recently provoked the impeachment and public opinion suggests that this in all probability was the Supreme Court ruling, interpreted as defiance. Consequently the objective of the impeachment is questionable. Is it to ensure a clean CJ or a tame CJ?
Also questionable is the procedure being adopted. For instance, representatives of a government that already believes there are valid charges for an impeachment comprise the majority on the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) which will also make the judgement. This simply does not sound right.
In these circumstances it is still not too late for the government to consider one of two options. The first is to avoid the escalation of a national crisis by withdrawing the impeachment and resolving any differences with the CJ through conversations; so that our national energy could be directed towards more important internal and external challenges. If on the other hand it still wants to proceed with the impeachment, the shortcomings in procedure should be rectified and the principles of justice set in place. If it is the latter, the members of the PSC will be obliged as representatives of the people to take on to themselves a national responsibility and rise above any partisan expectations. It will only be then that the CJ, who according to media reports is ready to defend herself, will have a fair and even chance of doing so.

Prisoners are also human

The Welikada riot in which prisoners took to violence is unacceptable and must be condemned. All security personnel injured while exercising their duty to quell the riot, and their families should receive the care, appreciation and prayers of the nation. Allegations of corruption in the Prisons system and the need for an effective grievance resolution mechanism for prisoners will also have to be addressed by impartial and competent persons without delay.

Of immediate importance however is the need to ensure justice for the prisoners killed in the riot and their families. That they were persons already judged, convicted and often socially despised, does not mean they and their families can be denied justice.
The truth about the causes of the riot and very particularly whether those killed died in a shootout or otherwise, has to be ascertained by an impartial commission and divulged to the nation. If it transpires that some of these deaths could have been avoided those responsible will have to be dealt with under the law.

A just promise

All citizens of our beloved Sri Lanka belong somewhere within this range of power and powerlessness. This is why what happens to the judge and the judged matters to us all; and this is why an accountable and independent CJ within an accountable and independent judiciary are of monumental importance for the nation today.
They together hold a promise of justice for the Judge and the judged, the powerful and powerless, each so vulnerable and excluded in their different ways.

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Latest comments

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    HON BESHOP ;
    YOU MISSED BUT I HAVE TO ADD,
    The CJ ,The Prisoners And the President of Sri Lanka Come Under The Same Law .
    [ The wander land of universe, {Vishvayatama ekai},

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    HON BISHOP ;
    YOU MISSED BUT I HAVE TO ADD,
    The CJ ,The Prisoners And the President of Sri Lanka Come Under The Same Law .
    [ The wander land of universe, {Vishvayatama ekai},

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    The (Retired) bishop de chickera, a superficial christian, is worried about the circumstances surrounding the impeachment of the CJ while we are worried about the statements he makes time to time being former bishop of the Anglican church. He speaks very impressive with a great eloquence but lacks Self-scrutiny not knowing that we stand naked before Jesus the Christ and the standard is always Christ. Always sounds a secular humanist, he should worship people like Socrates, Albert Einstein, Voltaire, Spinoza, Thomas Paine, Charles Darwin, and Sir Isaac Newton. They are certainly ignoring long passages of the Bible. I think this former Bishop is just playing safe and saying the POPULAR thing.

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      I think he is being responsible, not sounding off like an idiot sticking his nose in everything. As a member of the Clergy he is conducting himself with decorum. Well Said Sir!

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    malkanthi – are you not worried about the circumstances surrounding the impeachment of the CJ????

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      CJ is not the only issue, but the issue is can a bishop make such a statement ‘cos the bible says “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established(Romans 13:1), bishop cannot judge or justify.

      What Christians are suppose to do is “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation (Matthew 26:14).

      We cannot be worried over things that will come to pass as the scripture is very clear about end time signs. To quote A FEW; “Take heed that no one deceives you. lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold”, “Peace and safety!then sudden destruction comes upon them…. But you, brethren, are not in darkness so that this day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thess. 5:4-4) “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places.” (Matt. 24:7) “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another…” (Matt. 24:10) “…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness………..(Rom. 1:18-32) “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but… they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Tim. 4:2-4)”And many will follow their destructive ways… the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words…” (1 Peter 2:2-3)

      What the Word of God says will anyway come to pass, we are already witnessing them.

      But the good news is;

      “The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” (Psalm 34:7)

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    Hon Rev Bishop Duleep Chickera,

    It is very correct what you discussed here.
    If all civil society and relligous leaders to be calm in all the crisis situation like this what will happen to the motherland and what will be the future of ordinary people.

    You and Hon Rev Sobhitha Thero discussed these things.

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    There are various narratives about what happened at Welikada. It is neccesary that an independent impartial inquiry be launched to determine the truth. Govt is not taking any action or making any statement on this issue giving rise to the worst type of speculation.

    It is unfortunate that the Govt does not make any effort to help the powerless victims. No humanity or mercy even for criminals. Even some so called decent people do not mind what happened and simply turn a blind eye and make disparaging comments.

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    I think SUPREME COURT SHOULD IMMEDIATELY (WITHOUT DELAY) APPOINT A BENCH OF SENIOR JUDGES AND START HEARING THE CJ IMPEACHMENT TRIAL WITHOUT WAITING FOR THE NEXT PSC HEARING.

    Since people have no faith in unqualified and biased PSC the only way to bring justice to CJ is by bringing her in front of a qualified, experienced and honest bench of SENIOR JUDGES.

    SINCE THE 14 CHARGES ARE ALREADY KNOWN CJ COULD ANSWER THEM IN FRONT OF THESE SENIOR JUDGES.

    The trial also should be open to PUBLIC and should be broadcast on RADIO/ TV so public could witness the trial.

    THIS IS A MUST AND IMMEDIATE AND THE FAIR TRIAL WILL GIVE JUSTICE TO ALL.

    Waiting to hear others comments….on this.

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    Jayantha, you have a very good and a very timely solution for the present crisis between the Executive and the Judiciary. Now that the 14 charges are made public, SOMEONE could take the CJ to the courts and the courts will appoint senior judges to take up the case and give their ruling. I am sure the citizens of Sri Lanka who have the supreme power will accept the courts verdict than the majority recommendation of the PSC.

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      Thank you Ronny…
      Yes when I herd President has instructed all the Govt. parliament members not to talk about this CJ impeachment to public, and PSC not to reveal anything to press or public and no public viewing or broadcast of the proceeding….I noticed something fishy going under hand.
      MARA has already given the instructions to PSC to carry out and counting the days to chase CJ out which is very sad.

      That’s why I thought the best option we have is to start some kind of another trial by SC with the help of senior judges so there is another case, a valid, legal and peoples mandated one where MR has limited authority to block.

      Only if someone could inform on this oprion to CJ and to a senior Judge or to a Lawyer and get their opinion will be helpful.

      Because come 4th and 8th Dec, MARA is ready to kick CJ, and we have to save her for everybody’s benefit.

      Please see if you could convey this idea direct to CJ or a senior Judge or a Lawyer.

      Thanks.

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    You folks are well meaning and offer noble comments, but the reality is that these brothers are in a dictatorial mode and nothiig will change that short of Divine Judgment which is around the corner. We are a disgraceful, lawless nation and the “rule of law” has long fled!!

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    As a layman, I want to put a few questions to the legal eagles of the country!

    First, can the “cross over doctrine of S N Silva” be overturned by a full bench?

    Second, Can the immunity of the President be “tested”?

    Finally can decisions made under the 18th amendment be subject to more fundamental rights litigation?

    Awaiting some animated discussion

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    Rev Bishop

    Pl make an appeal to Namal Rajapakse to break away from his father’s and uncles’ politics:

    ”That is, till early February 2012, when Namal Rajapaksa paid a pop-visit to the returned villagers of Kokulai. The belief that he was coming to assist them with their most urgent needs increased the excitement in the air. Peter and his friends perked up with hope. A new dawn indeed, it seemed. As they expected, Namal spoke to the people with a sense of great gravity, pity, and commiseration. He toured the lands of Kokulai, as they believed, to better understand their sorrows. He left that day with promises, raising much expectation in Peter and the poor returnees.
    Whether Namal’s intentions were later led astray, or they had never been honourable in the first place, is difficult to know. Nonetheless, the next day the local AGA received a call from his office informing him that 20 acres of land, belonging to around 30 families, would be given to an East Asian company for the extraction of ilmenite. Before the families themselves knew of the transaction, strangers arrived and started setting up walls and fences around their property! Peter told me of the surprise that filled the villagers when strangers took over their land. Concerned, they approached the AGA with their deeds in hand. Now these are not government permits which can be revoked by the government; what they possess are deeds proving their ownership to this property for generations, yet the AGA claimed his hands were tied. How was he to stand up to the forces arrayed against these families? After the experience of the chief justice, would there be any judge who could be trusted to hear pleas on this dispute in a fearless manner?”
    – Returning IDPs in Kokulai, Mullaitivu, being robbed of land, ://www.lakbimanews.lk/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=52&Itemid=78

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    Rev Bishop

    ”… President Mahinda Rajapaksa has remained the proverbial commoner, the nation hopes therefore to see a course that brings sunshine to the lives of marginalized people. The President made an aerial survey of the erstwhile war zone on 25 September. He flew over the area in a helicopter. It enabled him to see for himself how post-war reconstruction has not touched the villages, and how it is ending up in creating rich islands and southern enclaves in a damage-strewn landscape. …” –
    North atop a new volcano, ://www.ceylontoday.lk/40-17996-news-detail-north-atop-a-new-volcano.html

    Reply

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    Readers

    Pl let me remind you:

    http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/digest/index.cfm/2007/10/24/Address-by-Bishop-Duleep-de-Chickera-to-the-Clergy-and-Laity-at-the-Diocesan-Council

    Address by Rt Rev Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo, to the Clergy and Laity at the Diocesan Council

    122nd Session of the Diocesan Council, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 19 October, 2007

    6. The Cry of the Nation

    6.1. The National Crisis

    6.1.1. The sustained alienation and humiliation especially of the Tamils, the largest minority Sri Lankan community.

    6.1.2. The failure to investigate human rights violations.

    6.1.3. The stifling of dissent and opinions that could make a difference.

    6.1.4. The failure to probe allegations of corruption and the unauthorised use of large sums of public funds.

    6.1.5. The deliberate procrastination and the ridiculing of political consensus and a negotiated settlement.

    6.1.6. LTTE intransigence and disregard for the sufferings of the Tamils.

    6.1.7. A system of rewards and punishments and the ensuing politics of confrontation.

    6.1.8 The spiralling cost of living that impacts on the quality of life of the poor.

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    THE GOOD BISHOP AND THE REVD SOBITHA ARE JUST TWO OF OUR RELIGIOUS LEADERS WHO VOICE THEIR VALID OPINIONS AGAINST THE INJUSTICES PERPETRATED ON THE CITIZENRY OF THIS COUNTRY. THERE MUST BE OTHERS BOTH RELIGIOUS AND LAITY,( WHERE IS THE CATHOLIC HIERARCHY?) AND THEN THE MASSES MUST RESPOND IF THERE IS TO BE ANY IMPACT ON THIS TRECHEROUS AND MURDEROUS TRIO.CHANDRIKA WHO MADE A STATEMENT AGAINST THE IMPEACHEMENT OF THE CJ, MUST ALSO RALLY THE DIEHARD SLFP MEMBERS TO BRING PRESSURE ON THEM. I CANT SEE THE BACK BONELESS LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION DOING ANYTHING TO ROCK THIS TRIUMVIRATE AS I AM INCLINED TO BELIEVE THAT HE IS IN THEIR PAY JUDGING FROM THE INEFFECTIVE ROLL HE HAS PLAYED IN THIS WHOLE DRAMA.
    THE REST OF OUR ACEDEMIA, DOCTORS, LAWYERS, PROFFESSORS, LECTURERS,BUSINESSMEN AND PROFESIONALS MUST TAKE THE CUE, AND THEN WE ORDINARY FOLK CAN JOIN IN TO THROW THIS CLAN INTO THE SEA.
    WISHFUL THINKING ? I HOPE NOT. THERE IS A LIMIT WE CAN STOMACHE, AND I KNOW WE HAVE REACHED THAT LIMIT.

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    WHERE IS THE CATHOLIC HIERARCHY? ????

    He went to the Pope to ask for GSP+.

    Has he come back?

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    oops, he’s back!!

    ‘’Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith says a controversial report by a three-member UN Panel on accountability issues in Sri Lanka is part of a conspiracy against the country’’ – Moon panel report a conspiracy against SL – Cardinal, 19 April 2011, http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=23425

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