“Recuse” is a word that is getting all too familiar today. There has been one more recusal in the case involving the Wilpattu Forest Reserve and allegations of serious violations of the provisions and legal requirements for forest protection.
“Recuse” is fast becoming part of our vocabulary of court proceedings with increasing recusals in many cases involving alleged bribery and corruption under the Rajapaksa Regime, especially the Gotabaya related cases on alleged corruption.
‘Recuse’ is to disqualify or excuse (oneself) as a judge from a case because of a potential conflict of interest or lack of impartiality. We must respect the judges prepared to display this situation in case proceedings.
Another important meaning of ‘recuse’ is to challenge (a judge or juror) as unqualified to perform legal duties because of a potential conflict of interest or lack of impartiality.
What we have to consider today is whether Justice itself has been recused from the Wilpattu Forest Reserve. How many more times will the petition on the alleged violations of the law on Wilpattu have to be studied in a court of law, with the threat of recusal hanging over judgment? Are we ready to recuse or challenge the judicial system?
This is a country and society used to the long delays in the legal process, which means extended delays in the enforcement of justice. The politicians are talking big today of bringing new legislation to stop the spread of terrorism, prevent of control hate speech, and the many other issues that face the public. But, little is ever said of bringing the necessary amending or new legislation to end delays in the entire process of Justice and the functioning of the judiciary in Sri Lanka.
Time and again we read and hear how the politicians involved in corrupt practices keep getting postponements of cases, involving even very simple matters such as the issue of a false or illegal passport, or huge public monies used illegally to build monuments to one’s parents. The postponements are now so lengthy and regular that they will transcend the period of a government that promised to fight corruption, to possibly move to that of a government re-elected with a policy of encouraging family and public corruption.
What do the repeated recusals mean for Wilpattu? It is the continuing destruction of a much needed forest reserve, so necessary for the spread and protection of the natural habitat in this country, so essential for the protection of the environment, a must for the survival of the species of animals, birds, fish and insects that thrive and breed here, and giving more valuable time for the politically and business backed destroyers of all these assets of nature.
This repeated Wilpattu Recusal is a mirror of the overall political recusals or disqualifications on conflicts of interest and lack of impartiality that pervades our entire system of politics and governance. The destruction of Nature and Wildlife in Wilpattu is an extension of the overall destruction of the systems of good governance, proper administration, and efficient financial investment and performance this country and its people face, irrespective of the ethnic and religious differences that are highlighted to suit the manipulators of political, social and legal recusal.
There are many who are objecting to the latest recusal or holdup on Wilpattu see it as a manipulative benefit to the Muslim politicians – of course Rishard Bathiudeen and people of his ethnicity or community that have been settled in the questionable areas. There is overall silence from those in yellow robes and lay attire, about the Sinhala Buddhist persons who have also been granted or somehow obtained land in this Reserve of Nature, through their own political manipulators, from Ministers to MPs – from the days of Basil Power. This is the increasing duality of political and social handling and propaganda that is heating the political debates in the post-Easter Tragedy situation.
From the Wilpattu Recusal one moves to the Kurunegala Gyn. Surgical alarm. The media, both formal and social, give increasing reports of the involvement of a gynaecological surgeon of Muslim ethnicity in what is a gravely criminal act, and if proved to be so deserving of the gravest punishment. There is a strange twist in the Police Performance in this matter. The surgeon was initially questioned on how he allegedly obtained a huge amount of undeclared wealth. If this is a justified Police Performance, why confine such a probe to a doctor of a particular ethnicity? Why not begin to question all those Members of Parliament about all their increasing and overflowing wealth? Will that be a breach of Parliamentary Privilege? Is the probe on such wealth not the field of the Bribery and Corruption Commission – with all its delays and escape games? What would the Police Spokesman tell about this?
More importantly, why do not the Police tell the public what aspect of this surgeon’s activities, apart from wealth accumulation, the CID is probing; whether it is under Emergency Regulations or Prevention of Terrorism Laws, or the larger issue of unauthorized birth prevention after Caesarean surgery?
The Police and the Health authorities should not try to have a Caesarean Recuse with their continuing silence on such an issue of social importance. Let the people know the truth, and sooner the better.
The Wilpattu Recuse has challenged the public faith in the Judicial Process; there is no room for a Caesarean Recuse on any prevented births of Sri Lankan children.