30 June, 2022


The New AG & IGP – Tasked To Revitalise The Dying System

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Now, there is a new Attorney General and a new Inspector General of Police. Whatever be the disputes about the manner in which their appointments were made, they are now the operators of two of the most vital systems of the state apparatus in Sri Lanka, the Attorney General’s Department and the police service.

That both of these vital institutions have been in a state of serious crisis and even decline, are a fact that is known to everyone; and is also acknowledged by the political and all other authorities. For at least the last 16 years, there had been a constant discussion on the state of collapse of the state institutions, including the Attorney General’s Department and also the policing service. An important landmark in this discussion was the debate in the Sri Lankan Parliament on the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

Reading the literature of the debates surrounding the move to introduce the 17th Amendment we find a very in depth discussion on the extent to which all the basic institutions of the state have been very seriously undermined due to the constitutional adjustments by way of the 1972 and the 1978 Constitution. That debate was made around particularly; the vicious impact the executive presidential system has the entire state apparatus of Sri Lanka. The key word that was used during this time was ‘politicisation’. The word politicisation was connoted as much of a danger signal as HIV Aids or terminal cancer. The problem was so serious.Pujith

The 17th Amendment was passed almost unanimously because of the consensus that existed even then, that unless something radical was done, the country was heading towards a serious peril. The 17th Amendment proposed a change of the manner of appointments to the most important functions of the state, having impact on various sectors of life in the society, so that the people who are really suitable for being the leaders of these various institutions will be appointed by following a methodology of merit rather than political preference.

The idea of merit based appointments is a product of human reasoning which has undergone many forms of refinements over the centuries. It became quite an accepted premise that without a suitable person leading a social organisation, that organisation cannot thrive; the more likelihood was, that such an organisation will head towards a serious crises.

The concept of merit is directly related to the idea of quality. One of the characteristics of the modern world is the highest consideration given to quality in all aspects of life. Quality control goes into everything, be it in the selection of a machine, a plane or even a small household itemsuch as a coffee maker. It can be said that a modern man is obsessed with the idea of quality.

A product of this admiration for ensuring quality in everything was the idea of quality control. There are all sorts of methodologies, mechanisms and individual skills that have been promoted in order to ensure that there is supervision over the quality of products. Many a Universities offer graduate and post graduate programmes for studying methods of ensuring quality. Huge sums of money is being spent by many corporations to ensure that not only the quality of products but also that the quality of their staff, match up to the expected quality. It is assumed that the quality of selection will ensure the product will reach the expected quality levels.

It was unfortunate that the political leaders of Sri Lanka did not show their capacity to understand this basic idea of the importance of quality over everything else. They took many unwise decisions which in fact caused a considerable loss of concern for quality in any of the services provided by the state. How there was such a lack of wisdom on the part of the political leaders in the post-independence period is a subject that is worthy of discussion and some day or the other such a study needs to be conducted if not for anything else, at least for self-understanding of what happened to this nation.

It was not some unimportant political leaders who took decisions that undermined the quality of services of every agency of the state. In the Cabinet of leaders that decided on the amendments to the Soulbury Constitution in 1972, and to the 1978 Constitution were persons, who were considered as eminent for their intellectual achievements in the country. Dr Colvin R. De Silva, Dr N, M.Perera, Felix Dias Bandaranaike were among the intellectual luminaries that were in the 1972 Cabinet. However, they could not understand that the removal of the judicial review, as they did, for all virtual purposes through this constitution, would seriously undermine the very notion of the separation of powers and the possibility of a judiciary that daringly exercises the independence of the judiciary.

Among the makers of the 1978 Constitution, were several persons such as J R Jayewardene who was considered – mistakenly for a long period – as the best representative of the elite class of Sri Lanka, and his brother H.W. Jayewardene, who was at the top of the legal profession in Sri Lanka and was once the President of the Bar Association; and many other persons who were considered to be highly intelligent individuals.

However, all these and other leaders involved did not even understand the most elementary aspects of the architecture of a constitution. They did not grasp that if a fundamental aspect of the proposed structure contradicted the rules of the construction of the nation then, the whole structure would collapse sooner or later. It was this level of ignorance on the part of these former leaders that caused the situation that the people are faced with today. Ignoring the fundamentals of a structure is a prescription for peril. We know it now by our own experience within the context of the modern day Sri Lanka.

It is the recognition of this peril that was the source of discussion when the 17th Amendment was made in 2001. However, measures taken in 2001 were grossly inadequate and even such limited measures, were soon to be completely ignored with the emergence of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.

In opposition to the Mahinda Rajapaksa government there again emerged, the old debate about the quality of the basic institutions of the country. This debate was quite central to the opposition during the entire period of the two Rajapaksa governments; and it surely was a very vital consideration in the electoral debates on January 8,2015 and in August 2015.

A hope was once more generated that perhaps this ongoing problem will be addressed on a serious footing by the new government. Therefore, the appointments that are made under the 19th Amendment into various posts including the Attorney General and the IGP should be seen as a response to the debate on which there is national consensuson –that we need to revitalise the fundamental institutions of the nation.

It is in the hands of the Attorney General to revitalise the Attorney General’s Department which also plays the role of Chief Prosecutor in Sir Lanka. That the prosecutorial system is grossly inadequate on the one hand and has been seriously abused for a considerable period of time on the otherneeds to no longer be laboured. The issue is how to address this problem and to provide the services of a good Attorney General’s Department to many vital institutions including the functioning of the judicial institutions. The new appointment is therefore,not for the purpose of just carrying out routine tasks. The routine tasks in any way cannot be carried out to any degree of reasonable satisfaction,under the present circumstances. Therefore, the task of undertaking serious stepsin order to revitalise the institution is on the shoulders of the new Attorney General. Upon his retirement, he will be judged. And the judgment will mostly be as to whether he made a difference to an institution facing peril and revitalise that institution or that he failed to do so.

The task facing the new IGP is even more formidable. He is a leader of an institution that the whole nation knows, is full of internal contradictions. It has contradictions such as,providing a quality service with a large numbers of officers who do not have any capacity to provide such services. The extremely irresponsible manner, in which large numbers of police officers have been recruited in the past, particularly by recruitment of at least 29,000 reserve police officers and assimilating them gradually into the entire policing system, is one such problem. The problem of such inappropriate appointments were not only made for reserve officers but also for other posts by means such as advertisements, just before the last presidential election for the appointment of sub inspectors, who were selected in a hurry, obviously for political purposes than for anything else. And then, there is the assimilation of the STF (Special Task Force) – which is aparamilitary service – into the mainstream policing service. These are just a few issues relating to the dangerously inappropriate recruitments so made, but the list all other such prevalent issues could be a very long one.

The first question that the IGP, as well as the Attorney general is facing is as to whether they are bent on developing a policy framework for the necessary changes. Without the initialpolicy development, we cannot expect anything to happen in the future. What are requiredare not statements to the press stating that even the mountains will be moved to achieve the aims of these institutions, but to do the humble task of sitting with colleagues and others who are knowledgeable about the institution’s vital functions, in order to work out a policy for change. This policy must also be placed before the people, so that they could, from the very start understand the new direction, of these two intuitions. Cooperation is the essential element that is required for the functioning of any public institution.

All this is not possible unless the government which appointed them provides them an assurance that the financial requirements for this change will be met by the government. The budgetary allocation for change within the Attorney General’s Department and the police department is the sine qua non for the success of both the AG and the IGP.

As the weeks go by the people will watch. The People will soon begin to say whether they see a change in the air, or they see only a repetition of the very things that they are fed up with. Such is the challenge faced by the new Attorney General and the IGP; and same challenge will need to be faced by the Government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickeramesinghe.

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Latest comments

  • 1

    First prisoner under Batalanda’s all clean Yahapalana is now a special advisor to the President.

    He wasn’t even a political prisoner. But a big ass swindler according to the Yahapalana dispensers and their Political masters.

    Now he is a Yahapalana VVIP with a full on Security Cordon from the MOD.

    Ambalangoda Nariya , who lost the deposit even at the hands of the inhabitants at the last Election is now a Minister, who tells fibs under the Parliamentary privilege.

    And even incriminates himself as a person who knew about a double murder but didn’t report it.

    And he was accused of money laundering and taking bribes from the Chinese to purchase Arms and Ammunition.

    It is the Yahapalana suckers and their Politicians who made these allegations.

    UNP MP Thevarapperuma attacks Opposition Politicians in front of the UNP Speaker.

    A wahabi Minister who manhandled a Tamil magistrate give Yahapalanaya to our inhabitants as a big ass Minister.

    Singaporean swindled the CB funds by buying Bonds above the Market Rate through the Son in Law.

    Under world is on the rampage, with 5 bodies burnt in a Van about a couple of months ago and three people with bullet holes in the head last week in another Van, in our holy city Anuradhapura.

    “Crack” is coming in ,in shit loads with Nigerians caught with 50 kilos a couple of weeks ago and another 20 Kilos yesterday.

    Good luck to Basil if his mates change this Yahapalana culture with the new IGP and the AG.

    • 0

      Whenever I read what you’ve said, I want to laugh.

      Btw, why shedding crocodile tears because a bunch of underworld thugs were burned or shot in the head?

      And better the Nigerians were caught than letting it run free no? Have you realised you have unwittingly highlighted an example of efficiency?

  • 2

    basil fernando’s double barrel is not firing against Yahapalanaya…..
    It was firing non stop like a multi barrel during Rajapakshe regime.

    [Edited out]

    • 2

      Don’t you know. He is a Trade Union.

  • 1

    No mention is made of the Minister of Justice, whose track-record was questionable.

    The US Grant of 46 Mil.USD for the specific purpose of Corruption control appears to
    be a non-starter under GG. It is a double-edged sword as far as present politicians
    are concerned. The Funds could be easily used for setting up a special Court to try
    all the 27 Cases so far filed by the FCID, without delays as would occur in the normal
    handling of these cases?

    • 3

      “”The US Grant of 46 Mil.USD for the specific purpose of Corruption control appears to be a non-starter under GG””

      USA grants worldwide is for its own kind- CONTROL ..what one does is not of consequence but it’s for Control- nothing comes for free.
      All Pakistani Grants is for Control to tame Russia. donate to pakistan F16 better than F32 and F15 only for Saudi for cash.

      Here, here! NO politician is EVER…EVER well-meaning. IF YOU believe that, then you are very naive. Money, power, and ulterior motives are the ONLY things that drive a politician to get out of bed each morning.

  • 6

    “”In the Cabinet of leaders that decided on the amendments to the Soulbury Constitution in 1972, and to the 1978 Constitution were persons, who were considered as eminent for their intellectual achievements in the country.””

    None of the sri lankans in 68 years have had any morels – All in the money and power. like eggheads.

    Chief Justice 19th ammendment!!

    What did Mr. K.N. Choksy Do with Basil and TATA after Hilton scandal??
    (even Nihal Sri Ameresekere is a scandal now with 100million)

    Here is the great Nani Palkhivala from simple beginnings.(His favourite quotation was from Joseph Story, who said: “The Constitution has been reared for immortality, if the work of man may justly aspire to such a title. It may, nevertheless, perish in an hour by the folly, or corruption, or negligence of its only keepers, the people.”).

    Seven years later, in Minerva Mills Ltd. v. Union of India, [(1980) 3 SCC 625], Palkhivala successfully moved the bench to declare that clause (4) of Article 368 of the Constitution which excludes judicial review of constitutional amendments was unconstitutional.
    Not only did Nani Palkhivala interpret the constitution as a message of intent, he also saw it as a social mandate with a moral dimension.
    “The survival of our democracy and the unity and integrity of the nation depend upon the realisation that constitutional morality is no less essential than constitutional legality. Dharma (righteousness; sense of public duty or virtue) lives in the hearts of public men; when it dies there, no Constitution, no law, no amendment, can save it.”
    Palkhivala argued that the extant right of a state government to administer an academic institution did not extend to a right to mal-administer. The majority of the nine-judge bench upheld his contention, significantly strengthening the rights of the minorities.

    A thrice blessed egghead nation with a begging bowl.

  • 6

    The Common Candidate of the people Hijacked by egghead Sobita

    Why hasn’t BodiSira resigned in 100 days??

    The way Lankians like it- hide under a woman’s skirt and con the world like the present day Barry `Hussain`- change>hope> All folk are dopes unlike the cultured Czechoslovakian people and 1989 Velvet Revolution or Gentle Revolution play write Václav Havel HE KEPT HIS PROMISE DIDS IT AND RESIGNED>

    Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.


    Does Lanka have one Vaclav Havel??
    No just Hegel Eggheads and Vaddukoddai Hydrocele

    • 5


      No just Hegel Eggheads, I_Slam humanity and Vaddukoddai Hydrocele

  • 0

    [Edited out]

    • 1

      Therefore it must have been true.

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