Lawyer strikes discordant note, vows to pursue disputed campaign



By Shamindra Ferdinando

pics by nishan s priyantha

Attorney-at-law Nagananda Kodituwakku yesterday lambasted the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) accusing it of turning a blind eye to the successive governments suppressing democratic rights.

Kodituwakku, facing disciplinary inquiry by the Supreme Court called a media briefing at the Center for Society and Religion (CSR), Maradana to explain what he called his anti-corruption crusade.

The lawyer revealed that he had received summons from the Supreme Court to appear before it on May 14.Responding to attorney-at-law retired Maj. Ajith Prasanna’s accusations regarding his professional conduct and that of junior colleague Sugandika Fernando, Kodituwakku alleged that the former Army officer was acting at the behest of the BASL.

Had the BASL genuinely represented the interests of the public, it would have certainly taken up the cases filed by him in the Supreme Court, Kodituwakku said.

The former top Customs officer said he had been compelled to move the Supreme Court against the CIABOC (Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption) over its failure to prosecute members of parliament for abusing duty free vehicle permits issued to them as parliamentarians. Kodituwakku produced documents to prove his campaign against corrupt practices involving politicians and his efforts to thwart political interference in the judiciary. Unfortunately, the BASL hadn’t realized its duties and obligations to the public, thereby ended up as an appendage of the corrupt political system.

Asked by The Island whether his joint effort with Sugandika Fernando was to facilitate foreign intervention in the judiciary and pave the way for foreign judges in local judicial mechanism, Kodituwakku explained the circumstances leading to the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government co-sponsoring Geneva resolution 30/1 in Oct 2015. Kodituwakku said that the government accepted that the people had lost their confidence in the judiciary therefore foreign participation in domestic judicial mechanism was permissible. A government task force that had been appointed in accordance with the Geneva Resolution recommended foreign judges, Kodituwakku said. Had the BASL fulfilled its obligations, the country wouldn’t have faced the current crisis, Kodituwakku said, alleging that the BASL under current leadership obviously enjoyed dancing to the tune of tune of politicians.

Kodituwakku explained how the BASL conveniently failed to summon special meetings when the judiciary faced extraordinary political challenges.

Kodituwakku, a dual citizen of UK and Sri Lanka, rejected accusations that he along with Sugandika Fernando were trying to facilitate foreign judges in domestic setup. Kodituwakku said that he decided to contest 2020 presidential election to expose the current corrupt political system. "Those who should be in jail are in parliament," he declared.

The Island also sought Kodituwakku’s response to Prasanna’s allegation that he was trying to divide the Sinhala electorate thereby causing disadvantage to presidential candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Kodituwakku said that his anti-corruption campaign would not only hurt former Defence Secretary but all other political parties, including the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Kodituwakku ridiculed Prasanna for hero worshiping Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and his Facebook post calling Gotabhaya the ultimate hope of the people.

The lawyer lambasted the BASL for trying to block the enactment of the Judicature Bill. Urging the BASL to examine its conduct, Kodituwakku pointed out how pathetic system failure paved the way for UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake to receive the financial portfolio in Jan. 2015 immediately after the presidential poll despite him facing USD 3 mn foreign exchange fraud case.

Kodituwakku said that he wouldn’t give up his struggle for justice. "Of course, I’m ready to face the consequences of my actions," he said.

Asked by The Island whether he approved of the way the Office of the President had chosen President’s Counsels on the basis of representations made by persons concerned themselves and whether similar practice in place in place in any part of the world, a smiling Kodituwakku alleged that those lawyers who took part in despicable operation to impeach the then Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake were given Silk by the previous Rajapaksa administration.

Kodituwakku flayed the BASL for not taking disciplinary action in respect of those, against whom it had received serious complaints. Responding to another query, Kodituwakku pointed out that according to information he received from the BASL as at Sept 2, 2018, it had received 156 complaints. Of those complaints, five had been referred to the Supreme Court, 35 dismissed and the remaining cases were pending, Kodituwakku said, urging the BASL leadership to change its style of handling complaints.

Kodituwakku compared the way the BASL and its UK counterpart handled complaints.

Asked how he teamed up with Sugandika Fernando, Kodituwakku said that she contacted him from overseas and then joined him in the anti-corruption campaign.

Kodituwakku said that he would seek the intervention of the Commonwealth to save democracy and judiciary from corrupt elements.

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