By Grusha Andrews –
The epic poet Homer in 8th Century BCE defined the Goddess of Justice Themis as “the organizer of the communal affairs of humans, particularly assemblies”. The facilitation of the assembly of people and their ideological discourse, platforming their aspirations and beliefs on justice were all viewed as the divine responsibilities of Themis, the Goddess of Justice.
Homer communicated to the reader, a sense of divinity associated with justice via the Goddess of Justice. Sir Moses Finley, poetically dissected Homer’s definition of the Goddess of Justice as follows:
“Themis is untranslatable. A gift of the gods and a mark of civilized existence, sometimes it means right custom, proper procedure, social order, and sometimes merely the will of the gods with little of the idea of right”.
Throughout civilization, divinity has been associated with justice. The law has been interpreted as an extension of gospel. The courts of law are considered the shrines of justice. Why so? This is because few other forces on earth has the shattering effect that injustice has on the human soul. What pains man, even more than injustice is the common belief in society that the quest for justice is a futile one. Even more painful is the realization that society was correct all along. But what is it that compels us to seek justice when our dual with injustice bleeds our souls and tears up our eyes in the dark?
I think what still ignites our quest for justice as Sri Lankan citizens is our indomitable belief in our judiciary. Although there are a few stray dogs, there remains beacons of respect for those who are not. It is easy to ride on the common rhetoric of “everything can be bought for money” and “judges are bought just like that!” belittling the system of justice in a simplistic manner. My belief is that the reality is more complex and more hopeful than that.
On Their Way Home!
In a recent controversial expose, attorney-at-law Sugandhika Fernando entered in to social dialogue about the corruption and impunity within the justice system in Sri Lanka. It attracted unprecedented response in the internet and in society. In the course of a few weeks the wave of consternation and her celebrity died down amidst insults and discrediting aimed at Fernando. I do believe that she spoke the truth; that the demons she presented were indeed demons. However, all lawyers and judges are not demons.
In her own words Eva Wanasundara was “called by Mahinda Rajapaksa on her way home to his office where she was sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court and this may have been influenced by her association with him in Law College”. Former Chief Justice Sarath N Silva who abused the power of his office was found engaging in sexual intercourse on his way home near the Diyawanna. In another occasion he apologized to the nation for sending Mahinda Rajapaksa scot free when he should have imprisoned Rajapaksa for his involvement in the Helping Hambantota fraud.
In The Looter Land
Why are we still looking at the Goddess of Justice, not forsaking our land? Why do we still feel hopeful of this land? If ever we travel abroad on a scholarship for one or two years, all and sundry advise us to never return to this cursed and luckless land at least for the sake of our children. They advise us to consider being even a coolie in another land rather than returning to this land of babies and princes; Chi-Chis and Yo-Yos; Gota mami and Basil mami; Appachchi of Medamulana; Shiranthi Amma of Siriliya; Banana Sujee and Defender Hirunika; I-didn’t- know Ravi and I-can’t remember Duminda; Political son of DS’s horse Vasantha; Bond scam Ranil; Suicide kit Navin; Little Premadasa Sajith; Aren’t you coming SB and Patali-the-scrubber of old racist stains; Deal Dasa and Suwapathi; Chathura who had a Tamasha wedding at tax payers expense at the Temple Trees; Vayima and the multi-passported Wimal; Chillie powder Prasanna and sarong lifting Wedaarachci; Speaker Chair demolishing Sudarshani Fernandopulle. Yes, they advise us to forsake this putrefied country gone to these kinds of politicians. They tell us to go as far away as possible from these shameless, despotic, murderer looters and close our eyes tight and forget this country.
Even when we close our eyes tight, hope is ignited in our hearts because it is the same so called hopeless, hapless judiciary that gives us hope. For every Sarath N Silva there is a Priyasath Dep. We have no idea where Dep lives or what Dep did on his way home. But we sure know that he never collected a due or undue privilege and left as lightly as he came, with honor and dignity. A citizen keeping a note on Dep on Facebook wrote “in this putrid society I may never have the integrity of Dep. But he has left giving me hope that my child may aspire to be a Dep”. For every Eva Wanasundara, there is a Nalin Perera. Many crestfallen citizens believed that the successor of Dep, Nalin Perera hot out the oven of his appointment may become partial to the President in his verdict on the dissolution of parliament. They believed that the other judges hearing that case were “Mahinda Men” and that they too would be partial to Rajapaksa. But the three judges, proving that Dep was not a man, but a venerated idea, unanimously delivered justice proving that a thousand Deps can be born. They upheld the venerated constitution.
Laying Our Hearts At The Feet Of The Goddess Of Justice
The Goddess of Justice in Sri Lanka successfully averted the daylight massacre of our democracy by President Maithripala Sirisena. This shameless, anti-democratic move by the President will immortalize him as a despicable in history. The judges hearing the case of this dissolution upheld the constitution and the law, without being biased towards the aspiration of the executive, nor the wishes of Ranil or Mahinda. They upheld the law. Mahinda Rajapaksa is reinstating well-known criminals and Sirisena gave a birthday present to Mahinda by transferring out police inspectors in the caliber of Nishantha Silva out of the CID, sending a strong message to the Supreme Court. If their wish is not granted they have the power to make the country a blood bath through terrorism and intimidation, destabilizing the whole nation. This is their way of pushing the Supreme Court to precipitate a favorable decision for themselves.
The Supreme Court on the 4th of December will meet, not merely to hear the cases pertaining to the dissolution of the Parliament. Not merely to interpret the law. They will meet again to save us from the unspoken messages of state terror sent by Sirisena and Rajapaksa. We shall lay our immaculate hearts at the feet of the Goddess of Justice and look at her unblinkingly, to see if she can hear our heartbeat. As Sir Moses Finley wrote, we do realize that “Themis the Goddess of Justice is untranslatable”. But we also know that our Supreme Court will deliver us justice on the 4th of December, as Sir Finley wrote, as a “gift of the gods and a mark of civilized existence, sometimes it means right custom, proper procedure, social order, and sometimes merely the will of the gods with little of the idea of right”. They will deliver us justice, not to protect, defeat, make or break the dispicables – Ranil, Mahinda or Maithripala. They will deliver us justice so that as that Facebooker wrote “our children may become a Dep”. We have laid our immaculate hearts at the feet of the Goddess of Justice, so that a thousand other Deps are born.
Honorable Chief Justice, honorable judges of the Supreme Court, Sirs, we are looking to you, for the sake of our children.