Crisis in judiciary: Prez, PM urged to adopt remedial measures


by Shamindra Ferdinando

A section of the audience at the BMICH event on Tuesday

Founding Editor of Ravaya Victor Ivan on Tuesday told the ruling UNP-SLFP coalition that tangible measures had to be taken to restore the independence of the judiciary.

Former JVP top ranker Ivan said the country couldn’t take a step forward without the restoration of judicial independence and transparency.

Ivan was addressing an event organised by Ravaya to celebrate its 30th anniversary at the BMICH. Among those who had been present on the occasion were President and SLFP leader Maithripala Sirisena, Premier and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as well as leaders of the TNA (R. Sampanthan), JVP (Anura Kumara Dissanayake) and SLMC (Rauff Hakeem), who together facilitated the change of government in January last year.

One-time Chief Justice Dr Shirani Bandaranayake was in the audience seated among politicians representing the government and the Joint Opposition.

Alleging that the judiciary had been under a cloud for a long time Ivan argued that there had arisen a need to take meaningful measures to restore public confidence in the judiciary.

Ivan said the judiciary had been belittled under President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, whom he accused of shielding wrongdoers. He cited the case of the judiciary protecting a Magistrate accused of raping two women years back to underscore the need to clean up the system. Turning towards President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe, Ivan stressed that justice hadn’t been done yet.

Ivan said that the issue was being raised in the presence of Sirisena and Wickremesinghe with a view to drawing their attention to the plight of those victimised by the Magistrate.

Ivan urged President Sirisena to launch a fresh inquiry into the two incidents. The President was also requested to appoint a Commission to propose judicial reforms.

The gathering was told that the yahapalana government had failed to achieve the desired objectives due to simmering internal dissent, which strengthened the Mahinda Rajapaksa camp. Asserting that Maithripala Sirisena’s victory hadn’t brought about the promised change in politics after the change of government in January 2015, Ivan said those who couldn’t make ends meet had been further burdened whereas MPs, especially ministers, enjoyed perks and privileges.

The former JVPer emphasised that the appointment of independent commissions in accordance with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in addition to the naming of a new Chief Justice alone wouldn’t bring in the much needed judicial reforms.

Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, while accusing successive governments of failing to take constitutional measures to address the national issue, expressed confidence in the ongoing project undertaken by President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe to introduce a new Constitution.

Stressing that nothing would be done behind the back of the people he insisted that the new Constitution be placed before the people at a referendum in addition to its passage in Parliament with a two-thirds majority.

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