Battling corruption Take a cue from the SC

Years ago it was mistakenly believed that Sri Lanka's war against terrorism was 'unwinnable'. That myth has been blown sky high. All is quiet on the northern front and nothing remains of Prabhakaran's terror empire but earth bunds. We, as a nation, achieved that great feat because we got our act together at long last and battled terrorism with a single-minded resolve to eliminate the scourge.

Similarly, there was a misconception that decisions made at the highest echelons of government to facilitate the plunder of public assets were irrevocable and the damage they caused to the country was irreversible simply because of the executive president's legal immunity. But, the Supreme Court has, of late, proved that we are not without effective legal remedies, if we take recourse to law instead of cursing darkness. In cases like the LMS and Waters Edge which have become a metaphor for abuse of political power and corruption, the Supreme Court with its mighty gavel reduced the corrupt and crooked to pulp. Thursday's Supreme Court ruling in the Sri Lanka Insurance case will also be hailed by generations to come as a path-breaking bold judgment.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared at the National Victory Parade on Wednesday that his government would now concentrate on battling corruption, drugs etc. as a national priority. Unless those insidious enemies are routed forthwith in the same manner as terrorists, this country will have no future in spite of its impressive battlefield victories.

The government must take a cue from the Supreme Court in fighting social evils. On Thursday, Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said, as we reported yesterday, that politicians could not be punished solely on the basis of COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) or PAC (Public Accounts Committee) findings. The Supreme Court has solved that problem through its rulings at issue. Now the government must be able to haul up those responsible for the aforesaid crooked deals before the Bribery Commission. Some politicians and their bureaucratic lackeys obviously lined their pockets by disposing of State assets for a song. They must be brought to justice immediately. Let there be no lame excuses trotted out!

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is indebted to the outgoing Chief Justice Sarath N Silva, who displayed grit and backbone in dispensing justice and brought down a peg or two the hoity-toity who tried to rise above the law of the land. With him on the Bench, justice was not only done but clearly seen to be done. He did both the judiciary and the country proud. He deserves not just bouquets but truckloads of flowers for having made the judiciary stand upright and carry out its duty by the nation. He, in the process, ruffled many a political feather and drew criticism from some disgruntled quarters for the unprecedented judicial activism which characterised the Supreme Court under his watch, but he doubtlessly endeared himself to the people of this country, who stood to gain from the reinvigoration of the judiciary and its landmark judgments. The CJ is retiring a hero to the masses!

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