By Ashan Nanayakkara –
“What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself”
The above great words of Abraham Lincoln are dedicated to those who try to go after bad publicity. This peace of writing is on such personnel.
The recent developments of bombardment against the Justice system of Sri Lanka (one can says that as a part of an Agenda to tarnish the legal system of Island Nation) which brought about quite a dissent over the Judiciary and the Legal Profession, among the society, which has gone out of proportion, as Author believes. Thus, this artifact is an assessment of recent remarks made by Hon. Minister of Ranjan Ramanayake, Deputy Minister of Social Empowerment, Welfare & Kandyan Heritage, Sugandika Fernando, Nagananda Kodithuwakku – Attorneys-at-Law, Facebook and other Social media pundits, etc. which they have claimed to be themselves as whistleblowers stand for the sanctum of Judiciary.
‘One Shot’, Minster – Ranjan Ramanayake punched the first blow targeting the Judiciary and the legal fraternity, condemning that majority of Judges and the Lawyers are corrupted and blemished. The actor-turned politician who is always thrilled by the hoots of Gallery went on to the extent that 90% of Lawyers and Judges are sinful. The said stance was re-iterated and affirmed by one time custom officer and now Attorney-at-Law, Nagananda Kodithuwakku in his extensive Article published in Colombo Telegraph dated 03-09-2017. To wit, that is an article to justify the utterances made by the aforesaid Minister.
Then, couple of weeks ago, the scandalous video of a Lawyer called Sugandhika Fernando came from abroad went viral in social media, making more than 74 000-viewers (there about 2-3 edited versions of the same, the writer only refers to the prime video footage, altogether the number of viewers may be well over 100 000) as at this date. Afortiori, the said speech given by the said Lawyer called Sugandika has been circulating and sharing in the Facebook over thousands of times which cannot be counted. On the other hand, it is evident from the Youtube that the said viral video had been viewed by more people in Sri Lanka beating the number of viewers of Iraj’s song of peeling Banans and feeding drumsticks to a man personates as Victor Rathnayake couple of months ago.
Out of those two, the former video was against one pillar of the Government, as we all call it, the Judiciary which is sine qua nonof present Nation State concept. That could have been the reason that general masses pose an extra penchant over such a video which teases the anarchist mindset hidden in every man. Some nihilists voiced their heart out demanding independence and unchastised Judiciary after seen Sugandhika’s heroic speech. The video became the talking point from bar table of a tavern to Bar table in court house. Some social media champions were opining that such a comment made by a person in the same fraternity would elaborate the lawlessness in this Country. To some, that is where the foreign judges are required to iron out such follies made by our own Lawyers and the Hon. Judges. For some, that reflects the break down of our legal system.
If a judge is lying in the chamber due to a hangover in the office hours and the ‘Mudliyar’ attends there into, if women Lawyers sleep with the Policemen and if each male Lawyer goes with the female spouse of his Divorce case is assumed as true, divulging of such a state of affair by a lady Lawyer, shouldn’t her be considered as a national heroine? Who would undermine such a bold speech which is an act of sheer courage? If I am not a Lawyer, who anticipates nothing but better Sri Lanka, Sugandhika is the Margret Thatcher to me, Nagananda is the Justinian to me, Ranjan Ramanayake is the Abraham Lincoln (or Incredible Hulk) in my world. They are the only hope and only living disciples of fountain of justice, or the ultimate Judiciary!
If what those trio preach is true, are there no good Lawyers and good judges in Sri Lanka?
Being a Lawyer, giving due credit to those 3-self-proclaimed-stoolpigeons, Author sees no wrong in some comments made by Miss Sugandika or Mr. Nangananda in their videos and writings. For instance, touting done by Lawyers, Policemen solicit Lawyers, some outrageous advices sent by the Hon. Attorney General, delay of litigation, ugly treatments upon Junior Lawyers by Seniors, childlike judgments written by the judges etc.
But, I vehemently disagree with the comments made by the above said three, inter alia, all female Lawyers bed with policemen, all judges are wicked and corrupted like ‘Lenin Rathnayake’ who might grant bail for a husband at the ransom of sex bribe by the wife, all male Lawyers are getting cases solicited by OICs and Police Constables, Judges pass their judgments for financial offers, every divorce Lawyer ends up in a hotel room with his female Client, each male Lawyer is a pervert who seduces his Junior female Lawyers who work under, depriving a Client from a Fee Memo is as evil as Genocide, and what not.
Having carefully watched the much scandalous video in Sugandhika by the Author, it is not inaccurate to say that nowhere in the said nearly 1-hour long speech, Miss Sugandhika ventured to state a single virtue of a Lawyer who deserves some merits. That is where Author figures out the Agenda of this female Lawyer. Knowing that the slanders made by her is relevant to 5% or 10% of those who in the legal practice, she was shrewd enough not to say one word to exclude the rest of the innocent 90% or the 95% of Lawyers and or Judges who may have high moral standards. In a nutshell, Lady Sugandika had no intentions to single out one Lawyer in Sri Lanka (may be except Mr. Naganada) who might have some rectitude left. Instead of that she was conscious enough leave no stone unturned to strip off the Lady Justice leaving nothing but a state of despair.
There was an acting Judge she referred to have been struggling from a hangover in the Judge’s Chamber in work hours where the ‘Mudliyar’ is seen attended to put some lime on the head and feet of the said Judge. It is sad that she could not name that Judge (or the Lawyer). She was in the opinion that one Judge named Shivantha Manchnayake had once refused her Application based on want of evidence, thereby, in the next time she humiliated the Judge by asking, “I don’t know your Honour’s SATISFACTORY LEVEL”. This is a disgraceful and despicable aspersion which needs to be atoned. Having done such reprehensible act, she has the audacity to talk big and say that she made the said Judge to step down from the Bench twice. Is that SO valiant effort to placed a judge into such embarrassment in his own Courts? Should the judiciary in the country be laughed at as such? In the said anecdotes, she was trying to illustrate that the said judge was corrupted not to give the judgment in Sugandhika’s favour. But, the law as the Author knows, judges have every right to dismiss cases, if they are not satisfied of the evidence led before them. This is the reason that we have a system called Appeals and the Author is pretty sure that Sugandika must very well aware of thatmodus operandi.
Nevertheless, we see, at the beginning of the practice, some armature junior lawyers take cases personal and fight with the judges thinking that Judge is against them. (Author does not wish to find the correctness of Mr. Shivantha Manchnayake’s Order as the Author is not privy to facts of the case. However, judges are empowered of dismissing cases). In such a backdrop, talking filth in the court house (sexual satisfactory level of the judge is the innuendo), against the presiding Judge, being a lady Lawyer, is appalling.
Another instance where she voiced against is Maravila District Judge, Mahendra Shri Raja. The said Judge became Sugandhika’s scape goat as he did not want to involve into a cat fight that Sugandhika and another female Lawyer fell on to and, due to the fact that the said District Judge sent Miss Sugandhika’s case to another court house. One won’t necessary be a Lawyer to understand why on earth a Judge who is the august member of that court room should involve into such a brawl. On the other hand the said District Judge, Mr. Mahendra Raja, as author realizes, a judge with a great conviction (this has been admitted even by this Sugandika too in her speech), has nothing done wrong to being branded in Sugandika’s red list of corrupt judges. What Sugandika’s allegation against this judge (who is far better than his father) was the latter granted Bail to an accused who should have charged under Victims of Crimes Act. From the little knowledge that Author has got, granting or not granting Bail under the said Act lies on the Criminal High Court where Magistrate has no powers over. Conversely, even if the Judge was wrong, proper forum to go against his Order was not call a media briefing, but go for an Appeal.
One thing Author cannot comprehend is how a Judge could become corrupted just because he or she throws the case brief away once he is done with that case, which is to be collected by a peon afterwards. So, assuming throwing a case brief is a misdemeanor, all the judges who are unbiased and honourable must slowly hands over their case briefs to the pion and those who are corrupted do otherwise. Is that the yardstick of finding a good judge from bad? My God, What a bullshit! I see such comments made by this young lady are tainted with pure hypocrisy and libelous intention.
As per Attorney-at-Law, Sugandika, except her, each Lawyer in Sri Lanka is a Devil Advocate. Her perception of a Sri Lankan Lawyer is, that “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”. This was uttered by Dick in William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2. By justifying the said view, they (Sugandika and Nagananda) say all the Lawyers have illicit affairs with the clients, or forceful affairs with Junior Lawyers, or Lawyers earn thumping money which is not gone to records of income tax, practice of a Lawyer is entirely based on touting etc. etc.
The tragedy of this kind of observation is that they strive to highly generalize the said immoral acts of the Lawyers across the board.
The Author recollects that when he was a Junior of late Advocate, Mr. S. L. Gunasekera there was no single Fee Memo was sent by this great gentleman without allocating portion for the Income Tax for the State. Hundreds of juniors who came to limelight from that chamber also have been practicing the said traditions intact thus far. As Author knows very well, a few Juniors of Mr. S. L. Gunasekera, viz, Mr. Kushan de Alwis (PC), Harsha Amarasekera (PC), Mr. Manohara de Silva (PC), Mr. Sanjeewa Jayawardane (PC), Mr. Maithri Gunarathne, Mr. Maithri Wickramasinghe, Anuruddha Dharmarathne, Dilshan Jayasooriya, Secretay of Bar Association – Kaushalya Navarathne, Supreme Court Judge – Hon. Prasanna Jayawardane, Supreme Court Judge – Hon. Priyantha Jayawardane, list goes, have been abiding by their civic duties paying taxes. And Author believes that from Mr. Romesh de Silva (PC), Mr. Kanag Ishwaran (PC), Mr. Gamini Marapana (PC) to Harsha Cabral (PC), Mr. Ali Sabry (PC) and Juniors bloom from their Chambers too are not debt to the State by evading income taxes (Author did mention the names of the said Gentlemen as the notorious speech made by this female Lawyer is an injustice to the said Good Lawyers and all alikes. In addition, most of the Lawyers in the outstations too follow the same footsteps.
This they do, without getting Government permits for their vehicles, without paid their hospital bills by the State funds, without getting Government salaries, without enjoying Government quarters, without having a quota for their children to attend into big schools in the town, without getting foreign trips from State or Private sector funds and so on. As the Author sees, the Lawyers are the less troublesome group of people in Sri Lanka who do not fight for their rights but always commit for their duties. Knowing 90% or 95% Lawyers are in the said category, Sugandika was shameful to generalize those Lawyers alleging they try to circumvent from paying income taxes. In this backdrop, the Author conveys to Sugandika that just because one had not good Senior to show the way, good Chamber to groom, gift of the gab to allure the Clientele do not mean that all the Lawyers in Sri Lanka deprived off such high standard.
The Author have no an aota of contempt to the Attorneys-at-Law who practice at Magistrate’s Court. By all means they contribute to the upbringing of the legal system of this country as other Lawyers do. However, the issue of this novice Sugandika is she has not seen the world beyond Magistrate’s Court.
One cannot fathom that how she tries to outshine the commitment of the Lawyers who burn the mid night oil to win their cases reading 1000-2000 long pages briefs. Perhaps, even after the said 1000-pages case is argued in court of law for another 2-3 hours (previous night preparation time may have also lasted for probably 2-hours) in the next day the client might come say that I would bring the fees on next Sunday; that next Sunday will never come.
Sugandika and Nagananda forget how many times Lawyers’ fees are not paid by the Clients; same time she puts the fact under the carpet that the Lawyers are the only ones who cannot sue against their clients for defaulting fees. Both Sugandika and Nagananda are well aware of that, a patient cannot get a channeling service without paying the channel fee of the Doctor, one cannot go on an omnibus without buying a ticket, one cannot buy a water bottle from a shop even if you are about to die in thirsty without paying the price. But, yet, Lawyers are professionally bound to give advices those who need it irrespective of their financial capacity. At hulftsdorp, in a given day, 50% of the Lawyers might appear for either free of charge or for prospective payments (It is a famous secret that once a Fee Memo is sent when the 1USD is Rs. 100, the fees may be settled when the 1USD is Rs. 150). Sugandika and Nagananda insult to the such Lawyers. Those Lawyers’ only crime is render their services without concerning of what they would gain. It is true that Lawyers are not Angels; but they are the professionals who read 2000-pages brief and prepare 100 pages summing up and being played out by the Client in style. Is that the reason that they deserve such a colossal vilification by this Maleficent.
Aftermath to the Sugandika’s dirt speech came out, the Author saw that one of his friends posted in the Facbook that the very first case that he appeared in the very first day of the New Year was for free of charge. The Author readily believes that this Lawyer (Ajith Galhena) is yet not sad about what he did and he would continue to do so. Sugandika’s talk is a slap to these noble men.
The Author has hundreds of female Lawyer friends in Colombo, Galle, Ratnapura, Kandy, Balapitiya, Kaduwela, Mahara, Trincomalee, Thambuttegama, Kuliyapitiya, Maravila. But, non of them sleeps with Policemen to get cases. (albeit,out of 500 Lady Lawyers the Author could come to reasonable presumption that 5 might sleep – that also a mere inference to be verified). Without insult to any other profession, it must be noted that these numbers may be very high in profession like Doctors. About male Lawyers, one day when the Author queried from another male Lawyer, “are you bedding with that woman who you are appearing for in that Divorce case”, it was retorted that, “You mad, It is very difficult to maintain even with the one I have legally got”! That is how the Lawyers life goes; they are also eats and breaths as the others. But, according to Sugandika, Nagananda and Ranjan Lawyers are villainies.
After Lawyers, those 3-guys go after Judges. One time Author was told by one Hon. Judge presides in Ratnapura, at a party, that “they have sometimes, 20-30 Judgments to be written even during the 14-days vacation”. Those Judgments are not coming in 1-2-pages; one may be about 10-15 pages. Such group of people became the guinea pigs of Sugandika’s and Nagananda’s irresponsible-speeches. People of this country must know that, a Magistrate might handle about 200-400 cases per day, a District Judge perhaps hear 20-50 cases per day including 10-Partition-cases which might have over 1000-pages, a Civil High Court Judge might sit from 10 o clock to 2 or 3 o clock prudently concentrating on Appeals, Court of Appeal Judges might listen to hair splitting Arguments of the Counsels for hours without interrupting them, Mr. Gomin Dayashri used to say that the Supreme Court is now like a bloody Magistrate’s Court due to the fact that it hears cases up to 4.00 pm, or perhaps 5.00 pm from 10 am in the morning. To this work load, the time set aside for writing Judgments must also be added. Then the final count is, a Judge in Sri Lanka has apparently no time for their life! “That is how the CORRUPT JUDGES work in Sri Lanka”, Mr. Ranjan Ramanayake.
Would you believe that Sugandhika, Nagananda and Ranjan humiliate such a sacrificing group of people who barely have a family life sometimes even in the vaction? Would you believe that as some people call it, ‘Gon Ranja’ damages to the reputation of such a group of people who toil hard to upbringing the legal system of this country? Would you believe that Miss Sugandika bad mouth on such a group of people who has no even proper sleep, freedom to go for a party at their fancy, or shopping as they please, or even defend themselves calling a media briefing against this kind of hooligans?
By looking at the aforesaid predicaments, it is not hard to understand that brief less Barristers like Sugandika, 2020 Presidential Candidate – Nagananda, low grade film maker – Doctor ‘Navariyan’ have got their own ulterior motives to achieve. They have their own Agendas. Everyone knows that the Minister Ranjan Ramanayake is at the verge of being punished for contempt of court charges; Sugandhika and Naganada are there to rescue that suspect by generalizing the slogan of “judicial system is corrupted”. Owing to Sugandika’s notorious speech and due to all of sudden oppression against her, she will be secured the asylum status in a European Country. Then her goals are also achieved. If the project of the Diaspora to bring down foreign Judges to Sri Lanka due to breakdown of the Judiciary is successful, UK citizenship holder Mr. Nagananda’s aspirations will also be accomplished. But at last, it must be noted that they have dug their own grave by defiling their own profession for cheap publicity and personal gains. Remember, there is no such thing as bad publicity except their own obituary!
Ashan Nanayakkara – Attorney-at-Law