Crossfire over a keg of powderAugust 4, 2012, 5:41 pm
All protagonists in the alleged Rishard Bathiudeen Faux Pas appear to be justified from the respective angle of their perspective. Muslim fishermen are entitled to resume possession of the mooring grounds from which they had been forcibly evicted. Tamils who have been planted in those grounds passively by the LTTE need time to relocate themselves. The Judiciary has to safeguard its independence through action against contempt of its Courts. Lawyers have a right and duty to vindicate the dignity of the Courts in which they practise. The President is bound to hold the scales evenly between the Executive and the Judiciary. All these are imperatives that could be properly satisfied in or out of court in the normal course of things.
But the danger in the instant case is that this particular dispute has its crippling undercurrents in inter-communal relationships, as evidenced by subsequent developments. The Mannar Magistrate’s Court has been attacked, reportedly. There have been demonstrations and protests in several places demanding punitive action matched in number and vehemence by communally inspired counter moves. Muslim leaders of all parties are said to be seeking an interview with the President, presumably to defuse action against those responsible for the alleged contempt. Any action taken to satisfy them is bound to rebound in a reaction from the Tamil community that may lead to progressive deterioration of inter-communal harmony that has just begun to flower after thirty years of corrosive ethnic warfare. This is an aspect that all peace loving members on both sides of the dispute should not overlook, whatever their personal stake may be. The challenge is to maintain the rule of law without upsetting ethnic equilibrium.
In this background, it is in the larger national interest to put an end to this dispute before it starts to spread its cancerous tentacles. Mr. Rishard Bathiudeen (RB) who stands accused in this case appears to be the most suited to do so. He knows best the facts of the case and if he is convinced of his innocence, no one can deny him the right to face the accusation and exculpate himself. But if the facts are as alleged, RB does not need to be tutored on the drastic consequences that are bound to ensue under the law of the land. In such a situation, a wise man would use the line of least resistance by seeking an amicable settlement out of Court, particularly in view of the racial nuances associated with the case.
If RB decides on settlement after considering the pros and the cons, it is best done through negotiation with the Head of the BASL, who is spearheading the measures calculated to deal with the impugned contempt. Bringing the President into the picture would unnecessarily complicate the issue by politicizing it. Let this matter be disposed of in the personal domain without blowing it out of proportion into the national.
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Last Updated May 19 2013 | 08:24 pm