21 September, 2020

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UGC Acts To Ban Academics From Legal Practice After Questioning By The Army RTI Finds 

Social media has erupted with anger over disclosures this week that Sri Lanka’s University Grants Commission (UGC) had based its decision to ban a legal academic attached to the Department of Law, University of Jaffna from engaging in legal practice following questions raised by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) as to the fact that he was appearing for petitioners in habeas corpus applications in the North.

Dr. Guruparan Kumaravadivel

The letter sent by the SLA to the UGC seeking the details of Dr. Kumaravadivel Guruparan was sought to be obtained by him from the UGC through an information request filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Colombo Telegraph wa informed that the UGC had released minutes of  the board meetings at which the decision to impose the ban had been taken. However the letter sent to the UGC by the SLA which was an annexure to the minutes was withheld on the basis that it was confidential information and that when permission had been asked by the UGC from the SLA to release, that permission was refused. 

Guruparan thereafter appealed to the Right to Information Commission which, on 21st January 2020, reversed the UGC decision, ordered the release of the letter, after calling for it and examining its contents. The Commission had pointed out that the letter sent by the SLA to the UGC had merely asked as to whether the academic was employed by the University, if he had been permitted to practice and if so, the basis on which that permission had been given. Such a document with a routine request cannot be considered as coming within the definition of confidential information whether it emanates from the Army or not in terms of the RTI Act, the Commission  had said during the hearing, Colombo Telegraph learns.   

Following the Commission Order, the UGC released the letter this week which was widely carried in social media sparking debates over whether academics should be allowed to appear in court.  

Academics appearing in courts of law, particularly in urging the Court to intervene on public interest matters has been an established tradition in the region with notable cases in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In India, academic Upendra Baxi became a household name by appearing in courts for abused detainees and in other social justice challenges. In Sri Lanka, the giving of permission by the academic establishment allowing academics to appear in court varies from university to university but legal practitioners affirmed to CT that it has been common practice in fundamental rights litigation.    

Activists have pointed out on social media that the wider issue here is not the ban in principle but the disclosure that the UGC had entered into the ban following questioning by the Army. ‘This is unacceptable’ they say. 

Related stories:

University Dons Condemn UGC Decisions To Bar Dr. Guruparan And University Academics From Practising Law

   

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Latest comments

  • 18
    1

    On what basis is Guruparan prevented by the University from practicing Law? On what basis are Medical professors attached to the Universities allowed to do private practice?.
    Apart from these questions, is n’t it useful to have practical experience in their respective fields?

    • 15
      2

      Similarly RIT should be used to get the information about import and use of chemical weapons and cluster bombs in the last stages of war. This will being solace to the soul of the late Prageeth Eknaligoda who was abducted, tortured and made to disappear by agents of government when he exposed the use of these weapons on Tamils.

      • 1
        6

        Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam,
        Chemical weapons and cluster bombs. Sheer BS! Typical ‘Para’ Demala ‘Spin Doctor’.

        Ekneligoda was not made to disappear for exposing import and use of chemical weapons and cluster bombs. He was made to disappear for exposing the sex life of a prominent politician.

        • 5
          0

          Mahindapala the idiot, let there be a credible international inquiry on war crimes, all these will come to light by production of documents relating to transport of banned weapons and passage through Sri Lanka customs. Witness are saying about cluster bombs mutilating bodies and poison gasses suffocating people. Exposing sex life of a politician would have not labelled him as a traitor to the nation and eliminated.

      • 6
        0

        Similarly, RTI should be used to trace the import of Kilns from China &
        used to burn all human remains in the war zone, in secret. This is why
        no mass grave is traceable in the death of thousands at the end of the
        war. Army heroes are aware of this act & the DS of the time can reveal the truth before his end comes here on earth:

        • 6
          3

          Chinese aided and abetted in disposing of 40,000 dead bodies of Tamils ten years ago. See the divine retribution that has descended upon them, when over 100,000 Chinese are shot and their dead bodies got rid of in the same manner.

          • 3
            1

            “Chinese aided and abetted in disposing of 40,000 dead bodies of Tamils ten years ago.” “…over 100,000 Chinese are shot and their dead bodies got rid of in the same manner.”
            If it is divine retribution who did it to the Chinese? Can you let us into this divine secret?
            Carry on Doctor. You are most unintentionally funny.

            • 1
              3

              SJ,
              It gets even better. It seems the Chinese are even exporting the bodies as corned beef, according to some unintentional comedians on social media. Perhaps there should be am IQ test for those who want to use FB.

              • 1
                1

                OC
                The thumbs down to your comment is an indication of the character and scale of the sense of humor we have on these pages.
                The daft comments more amusement than annoyance.

          • 3
            1

            Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam,
            you hit the nail on many a head.?
            retribution due to natural causes is assured.
            sad shittiest sorriest Lanka is in a mode of suffering the end is nigh and they the hapless for no fault of theirs will suffer and suffer till death do them apart.?
            =
            what a way to perish while the rich and the politikkas make hay whilst the sun keeps shining on their wide arses.?
            a joyous cheers, R. J.

    • 14
      4

      When I met Guruparan at a wedding in London last month, I told him of a precedence, when in the 60s Prof Ranasinghe and Prof Visvanathan both of Colombo medical faculty went to courts against the then government which banned private practice for university academics and won the case which permitted them to do private practice. There can not be double standards in law for some then and for others now. This is a classic instance of terrorism to prevent people from standing up against the atrocities committed by armed forces. Naturally Sinhala controlled UGC consented to this basic human rights violation and ordered Jaffna university. A lesser known fact which he told me was that his father was the nominee of Jaffna university at the UGC and he did not object to this dastardly action by Sinhala members of UGC. He said when they were discussing about this matter his father was asked to leave the room. I told him if I was him, I would have refused to leave and would have raised severe objection to this racist behaviour. I told him that if his father does not have the backbone to stand up against these racists in UGC, he should never have been sent by Jaffna university to represent them. A person like Ratnajeevan Hoole is the correct person to take Sinhala racists by their horn, and it is unfortunate that just because majority in Jaffna University are against him, they are doing a great disservice to Tamil community.

      • 16
        0

        Dr Sankaralingam: Perhaps it is not a good idea to quote a private conversation with Guruparan on this public forum. It is correct for Prof Kumaravadivel to have excused himself from the meeting (or even be asked to leave by the chair of the meeting) when the discussion was about a close relative. That is the way to avoid conflict of interest.
        .
        But that is not to say UGC were right. All they needed to do in response to that letter was to write a reply, clarifying what was asked, stating the facts: (a) yes, he is; (b) yes, he has; and (c) external professional practice by academics is normal (just like how academics are called upon by the defense ministry to carry out technical evaluations on war equipment purchase etc.) Instead they simply caved in, tail between legs. This is sickening.
        .
        And of our U of J Council, who did not stand up and defend a member of their staff, wouldn’t I be a happy bunny if I could explain away their behavior by incompetence?

        • 3
          4

          Prof Kumaravadivel did not have the guts to tell other members of UGC, that if there was conflict of interest and I have to leave, then postpone this matter to another meeting when we will send another representative from Jaffna university to attend. He should have objected to UGC taking a decision without representation from the university which is subjected to this issue. This is like refusing an accused to defend himself in courts and conducting the case ex-parte. If you are honest everything has to be transparent and exposing a glaring mistake committed by Prof. Kumaravadivel cannot be wrong, especially when his son is complaining about maltreatment. I can take a safe bet that had Prof. Kumaravadivel had raised objections at the meeting, Sinhala members would have been taken aback.

          • 6
            1

            Doc, you are wrong. Members of the Commission are not representatives of universities — check out the web page of UGC, there are far fewer members than there are universities. So there is no space for Prof Kumaravadivel to say “I have conflict of interest, hold this till next meeting, I will send someone else from Jaffna”.
            .
            Prof Kumaravadivel was right not to take part in the meeting. In addition to conflict of interest, he might have reasoned that his intervention could do more harm than good. The point is, it is the UGC and our University Council that are at fault here. What you are doing is to volunteer Prof Kumaravadivel to fight off the Sinhalese while living far away from here. That, with all due respect doctor, is callous.

        • 2
          2

          It is correct for Prof Kumaravadivel to have excused himself from the meeting (or even be asked to leave by the chair of the meeting) when the discussion was about a close relative.

          If he did not excuse, that is typical Tamil arrogance infront of sinhala people or Sinhala govt. It would imply that the interviewee must be present their when the interviewers are talking about him. It is conflict of interest even when the interviewee is a friend and the decision becomes invalid. Demala should not be allowed. Tamils always think, sinhala who ever must submit to them. If not they go to courts, to NGOs and then to International community.

        • 1
          1

          TT
          No Council interferes in a complaint that is not referred to it.
          No academic colleague of the don concerned can bring any matter up without formal complaint or protest through proper channels.
          *
          If it is any consolation, there are dons in all Councils who speak up for colleagues, perhaps selectively. Consider the possibility that Dr G was not in the good books of the protestant (nothing to do with Christianity) group which was in the habit of kicking up a row about even the most trivial issue in the UoJ, until two years ago.

      • 2
        4

        Sankaralingam,

        “and it is unfortunate that just because majority in Jaffna University are against him….”

        Why are they against him? Because he is a Christian and not a Vellalar. Thanks for identifying the true source of the problem. Now let’s discuss why low-caste Prabhakaran eliminated the TULF top leadership (again Vellalars) to become dictator of the fake state.

      • 0
        3

        Dr. G.S.
        When both the VC of the Jaffna University and the UGC are the products of a Sinhala dominant Government, what else can it be unless it is Sinhala majoritarian terrorism?

    • 5
      15

      Whatever basis on which University academics are allowed to do private practice in this country, their private practice has more to do with gaining experience in minting money than making themselves professionally competent.
      The scale on which happens here is unparalleled in any other country in Asia or Europe.
      The medical education system provides plenty of opportunity to gain experience in government hospitals for both teachers and students.
      I know Peradeniya medical dons and government doctors who refused to do private practice as a matter of principle well into the 1980s.

      • 13
        2

        //… gaining experience in minting money than…//
        It saddens me to see such sweeping generalization!

        • 1
          1

          MN
          It delights me to hear that you disapprove of sweeping statements.
          *
          Have you spent much time in channeled consultancy chambers in this country? I have spent many sessions (luckily only a few with my troubles.)
          Do you have a clue about how many customers (that is what they call patients in Britain these days I guess) each sees in an evening and the time that they spend with a patient and how much they collect?
          The private practice here thrives on a health service that has been systematically wrecked by successive governments since 1978. Gone are the days of the likes of Barr Kumarakulasinghe and Mark Amerasinghe whom very much I admired in Peradeniya. We do not produce Senaka Bibiles anymore. Recently a victim of Durdans Hospital complained about the way specialists were flogging various medical products to gullible relatives. He named just two specialists as exceptions to abusive conduct.
          Exceptions do not make a rule.
          *
          Universities have access to excellent teaching hospitals which give ample opportunity for both teachers and students to gain hands-on experience. Do they really need private practice for improving on experience?
          *
          Compare data on private practice for university academics in this country with that for your country.
          *
          If one believes that medical academics indulge in private practice for altruistic reasons, he or she must be living in cloud cuckoo land or is perhaps plain cuckoo.

          • 4
            0

            SJ, I am well aware of the data you quote is correct and even statistically significant. But applying such background statistics to understand, or even hint at explaining, Guruparan’s plight is called sweeping generalization, which is what I object to. That generalization thrown into the thread of comments here is suggestive that Guruparan, too, is money-minded and does not learn anything from practicing law in courts. I know for a fact that neither is true.If that is cockoo-speak, so be it.

            • 1
              3

              MN
              If you were aware that I was a factually correct, then what was the case for your expression of sadness about what I said.
              My comment was in response to an observation here about the value of private practice by academics in the medical profession.
              *
              Feel free to imagine what you like as you have done in the past. That is your problem.
              If you suspected something in my comment, you could have come straight to the point. That is not too difficult I guess.
              Just don’t try to drag me into a debate of your creation.
              I have had enough of this BS.

              • 0
                0

                SJ: // was a factually correct, then what was the case for your expression of sadness //
                I tried to explain it in the second, third and fourth sentences. Clearly, I failed!

                • 0
                  0

                  MN
                  You failed because you were miserably trying to attribute motives yet again.

  • 14
    0

    What do you expect from a government institutions of Government headed by war crminal who spearheaded army’s ethnic.cleansing and continued structural Genocide to cover up his daylight robberies of funds of country such as.mig deals and what not.
    Now the sinhala Buddhist has begun taste of Military rule when make police officers with sexual aberrations pulling the females in public and military man handling the cricket enthusiasts.

    • 5
      1

      This war criminal is definitely suffering from a deep, cheap Inferiority Complex.Firstly he has no intelligent secondly no knowledge on foreign policies and third he has proved that he can only converse with non-intelligent people but not with academics and visiting dignitaries, REMEMBER his interview with one of the foreign journalists when he asked “WHO IS LASANTHA” ? THAT REALLY SHOWED THAT HE DOES NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT DIPLOMACY IS ?? A sad state of affairs

    • 2
      1

      Idiot. Look at the date of the letter. This was written by the Army to the UGC in 2019 – that is the period of Ranil W. the beloved of the Colombo liberals. The UGC also took its decision before the change at the top.

      So what do they say to this??

      Sauce to the gander, sauce to the geese, eh?

    • 1
      4

      Dilshan,

      Do not lie through your teeth. ‘Para’ Demalu are pretty good in doing this.

  • 15
    2

    Under Gota-Mahinda-Pohottuwa Govt Sri Lanka has become a “Military-Police” State. Military is every where including in Civilian Positions. On the other hand Judiciary including the Attorney General have become a puppet under this regime. All cases against Rajapakse Family, their relatives, their friends, their supporting MPs are being postponed or presented with amended charges what are weak in order to get the cases removed. We also see crooks and criminals, some of them who have been charged by courts are standing by the side of the PM and President in public events and overseas visits. We also see Karanagoda who has an arrest warrant is seen on the same platform as AG is not arrested. We are back to old “Maharajah Rajapakse” Government of the past, the same thugs, rapists, murderers, kudu mudalalis are with Mahinda.. This is the result of Gotabaya after promising so much during the election campaign surrendering to his brother Mahinda after the election.

  • 11
    0

    UGC does not know how to take works from its academics at its universities.
    Many academics take salaries without any jobs done .many of them do not reach but get big salaries …
    UGC is a corrupt institution. Politics and UGC are intertwined…so what do you expect from it

  • 11
    1

    Is the Army consuming kassippu?

    • 5
      1

      They are always on a roll after imbibing kassipu through the day. Anything can happen even hiding the coronavirus patients under their beds

  • 1
    13

    guruparan Vadiwel should be fired. He is paid by the govt to talk against the govt in security related matters.
    Besides, Teachers asking school children to come to their class and not teaching in the class. doctors doing private practices and staying only about an hour in the hospital, and here, lawyers doing private practices are all ugly

  • 6
    1

    Guruparan’s issue has nothing to do with rights of university academic staff to do private practice. It is common knowledge Universities in many countries not only permit but also encourage academic staff to be engaged in private consultation and practice using a percent of their official time. Such practice may or may not be voluntary service.
    The army wants Guru to stop representing the relatives of Victims on the habeous corpus case against the General who was in charge of the Jaffna Peninsula in 1996. They know this is only the start and many more such cases will come before courts in the North and East.
    The army thought Srisena will support them to stop Guruparan through UGC and U of J Council. UGC and Council have no academic integrity but they under estimated Guruparan. He as a person of integrity and a brilliant attorney and will, through the SC, will ensure that such illegal actions does not recur in the future to anyone. Now with a person who had command responsibility for war Crimes and Crimes against Humanity as President, the Army will think they can win. The SC will be on trial and the UN is watching. It need to prove that the judiciary is independent.

    • 0
      3

      The army wants Guru to stop representing the relatives of Victims on the habeous corpus case against the General who was in charge of the Jaffna Peninsula in 1996.
      University academics can go to courts as EXPERT WITNESSES but not as lawyers representing the clients. That is abuse of the system and typical Tamil arrogance in which they think they are above everything because they are tamils and always the victims.

      • 2
        0

        JD.
        Drs Need to do private practice. Agric staff help farmers to increase agric production as part of their work. Academic prepare school curricula, set exam papers, correct answer scripts. Similarly law faculty staff represent victims of unlawful acts. A university academic Who only teach and conduct research neglect one third of their responsibility.
        I shall not respond to your last sentence as it sounds like a product of a limping mind.

    • 4
      0

      NE
      Do not question out of prejudice the integrity of the then UoJ Council.
      It was among the most independent University Councils in the country in the past few decades. There was no lobbying or pushing for the government or any political force in that Council, despite having people of diverse views.
      Use RTI (or the CouncilLeaks network) to access the Council minutes before making your comments.

  • 2
    5

    This is typical Tamil style, frequent tribalist instincts and confrontation with other tribes, Showing superiority because of inferiority complex. He wants Sri lankan govt to pay his Salary as an academic while he is working against the govt and making a buck out of that. THIS TYPICAL HUMAN RIGHTS, ONE’S SELFISHNESS AND SUPERIORITY COMPLEX, while showing NO RESPECT TO OTHER HUMANS. WESTERN STYLE, RELIGIOUS FEELING SHOULD BE BEHIND.

  • 4
    1

    This shows the path taken by the so called ‘ Educated’.[ VIATHMAGA]

  • 2
    1

    Possible overreaction by the UGC. Army only asked for info. This is how viathun work. Few weeks back Prof. GL Peris said that all election promises are not meant to be kept.

  • 2
    1

    Every effort is being made by the Gota regime to have a fully compatible infra-structure for un unwritten Military Government after the gen. elections. Thereafter, “might is right” kind of a grip on power will be the order of the day. Now Sajin Vas is already in remand what would be his fate after parliament is dissolved – only God knows – his arrest could even be a sign of dangerous happenings that are going to come.

  • 3
    1

    the army being given the green lights to go ahead will control all the citizens of this aad shitty sorry bankrupt suffering isle to stand to attention at their braying like a donkey draconian unjustified orders.?
    =
    every citizen will be told that at what time, where they will perform their daily ablutions.?
    they will be also told to eat and drink their droppings and that of the others.?
    =
    that’s life under the kallathoni American citizen a war criminal of the highest order gora sakilli rajapuka and his clan.
    =
    glad that I and my wonderful daughter jetted out of this impending at that time hellhole in 1987.
    =
    cheers, R. J.

    • 1
      2

      “glad that I and my wonderful daughter jetted out of this impending at that time hellhole in 1987.”

      Good riddance!

  • 2
    0

    I love this logic!

    Define Attorney at law: a lawyer who is qualified to represent a client in court.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is… Yogi Berra

    Then how come an attorney at law can not represent a client in court in SL?

    Is it SL’s historical trademark solution of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole?

    We are now living in a time in which a professor is judged by what contribution that professor has done to help voiceless people in need.

    If you are an educator and your work hasn’t been transformed directly or indirectly into any form of product or service to improve the quality of your society then taxpayer money invested on that educator was a bad investment.

  • 0
    0

    In my comment on the related article of December 12, 2019, I wrote “Are we to understand that the military here in Sri Lanka considers a person practising law as a security risk? Unless I see the copy of the purported letter it is difficult for me to buy that.” My suspicion that any letter concerned with practising law as a security threat was fully justified in the revelation made in this article. In the previous comment of mine, I stated that the UGC must take the full responsibility and my stand on that too is now fully justified. One of the praiseworthy activities of the “Yahapalana” Government was the enactment of the RTI act and Dr. Kumaravadivel had to go through all the motions to find the truth. In fact the letter of the Army states that the information is requested so that the response could be transmitted to the AG’s Department. Unlike other public servants, if University Dons can engage in political activity and all other Dons can engage in private practise in whatever profession it may be, why discriminate Dr. Kumaravadivel? Although it may look as a conflict of interest on the surface, I maintain that whether it is law, medicine, engineering, architecture or any other profession, the private practise by the Don enhances and enriches the experience of the respective Don. Therefore, in order to give a reply to the Army that it has not authorised private practise and therefore ban only Dr. Kumaravadivel from private practise completely deviates good administrative practise. If the UGC, consisting of academics behave like this doesn’t this reflect badly on other academics of Sri Lanka? MAY GOD HELP!

    • 0
      0

      @ Good Sense ‘One of the praiseworthy activities of the Yahapanalaya Gvt was the enactment of the RTI Act’

      That was because strong people got involved and it did not get messed like the famour four pillars of TJ with international agendas, international funding and politicisation. Those jokers ‘drafting’ things full of holes spent weeks on end in Swiss villas.

      Lanka RTI will last only till this Commission sits (I was told by those who have filed appeals that one uthuru saluwa member nominated by NGOs do not speak even one word during the hearings!)

      After April, RTI will be slowly pushed aside and Gota/Mara henchmen put in.

  • 2
    0

    Cut to the bollocks! The truth is that Dr. Kumaravadivel Guruparan has become a thorn in the side of the Army legal team.

    This is the Sri Lanka of 2020.

  • 0
    0

    UGC is going out of track in many folds and adding its part of the responsibility for promoting radicalization

    today the root cause of masterminding easter Sunday bomb attack and the failure to take prompts action is directly attributed to the governments and politicians, academic institutions did nothing to unfold the truth behind it through their academic studies.

    Contrary to that academics are the biggest consumers of the political and medial of the hate speech and almost all the Universities in Sri Lanka closed down Muslim students’ prayer rooms. With this kind of ignorant mentality, Sri Lankan academic community can not be a voice for justice.

    Not only that the restriction of academics appearing at the court of law for justice being restricted is the explicit restriction on academics to engage in justice promotion in Sri Lanka.

    I really feel ashamed of UGC and those professors and Faculty Deens who became victims of the politicized media and unable to understand freedom the practice religion and terrorism as to seperate things. and adding fuel toward radicalization by restricting the right to practice religion within universities that were allowed before the Easter Sunday attack.

  • 0
    0

    UGC is going out of track in many folds and adding its part of the responsibility for promoting radicalization

    today the root cause of masterminding easter Sunday bomb attack and the failure to take prompts action is directly attributed to the governments and politicians, academic institutions did nothing to unfold the truth behind it through their academic studies.

    Contrary to that academics are the biggest consumers of the political and media campaign of the anti-muslim hate speech and for example, almost all the Universities in Sri Lanka closed down the Muslim students’ prayer rooms. With this kind of ignorant mentality, Sri Lankan academic community can not be a voice for justice.

    Not only that, the restriction of academics appearing at the court of law for justice being restricted is the explicit restriction on academics to engage in justice promotion in Sri Lanka.

    I really feel ashamed of UGC and those professors and Faculty Deens who became victims of the politicized media and unable to understand freedom to practice religion and terrorism as two separate things. and adding fuel toward radicalization by restricting the right to practice religion within universities that were allowed before the Easter Sunday attack.

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