The Bitter taste of Corruption


Marikkar the Pundit

Mr. C. A. S. Marikkar was an oriental languages pundit and an orator with extraordinary skills who could keep the masses enthralled with his vitriolic verbiage in castigating the UNP. He was used by Bandaranaike to keep the crowds from being restless until he arrived. There were no helicopters. Everyone had to travel by car and it took hours to move from one meeting to another. Thus, until the leader of the Opposition arrived, it was Mr. Marikkar who kept the crowd going

As the new Minister of Posts and Telecommunications

As the powerful Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, he started dismantling the hierarchical structure built by the British and faithfully carried out by their favored agents the UNP. Mr. Marikkar could be debited as the first Minister to usurp the powers of the Post-Master General. He made the first attempt to bypass or ignore the presence of the Public Service Commission or the Post Master General, to whom the power was delegated by the PSC. The learned Commissioner had this say "The Public Service Commission has delegated their power to make certain specified appointments to the Head of the Department, because otherwise the Commission would be over-whelmed with work. This devolution could have a good effect in strengthening authority and discipline in the Department. But we find that when Mr. C. A. S. Marikkar was the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, it was he and not the Postmaster-General who in fact exercised the power delegated by the Public Service Commission. The Postmaster-General says he found himself snowed under with representations by Members of Parliament and others and was called upon to make so many reports to the Minister, that he ceased to make any appointments to Sub-Post Offices without consulting the Minister. Then, he usually found that if the applicant chosen for appointment by him was someone other than the one recommended by Mr. Marikkar, the creation of a new Sub-Post Office or the upgrading of an existing Sub-Post Office would be cancelled or postponed. He says that Mr. Marikkar never made him appoint any particular candidate and that he took sole responsibility for the appointment. But, that was only on paper; in the result, the man preferred by Mr. Marikkar was ordinarily appointed. We also found that Sub-Postmasters are allowed to take part in politics with the result that politicians were anxious to get their supporters appointed to those posts. This afforded supporters appointments to those posts. This afforded opportunities for bribery."

The Commissioners decided to entertain even anonymous petitions. Having perused them they got them meticulously investigated by a team of police officers attached to the CID, as they feared that ignoring the anonymous petitions would lead to the people accepting the unacceptable and thus it would transform the society to accept that Bribery and Corruption had become a way of life.

The most number of complaints were received against Casila Abdul Samed Marikkar, the erudite Scholar of the Tripitakaya and the most appealing orator in the Bandaranaike government. The Commission opened 22 files, after thorough and meticulous investigations. The Commission found there were complaints where a prima facie case could be established. A public inquiry was held and Mr. Marikkar was found guilty on 3 complaints of which, in two cases he was found guilty by the verdict of the Majority.

Mr. K. C. Nadarajah

Mr. Marikkar retained Mr. K. C. Nadarjah, one of the most sought after criminal lawyers at that time. Today, other than those who worked in his shadow, no one knows or talks about him. He was a searing cross examiner and a very respected senior lawyer. Mr. Ananda Wijesekera PC, was one his able juniors. In fact both ‘KC Nada’ and ‘Ana’ as they were fondly known, appeared and defended Mr. Marikkar. I am referring to these two gentlemen as the profession has lost the scholarship the erudition of many Tamil lawyers, we were very fortunate to have. There was a galaxy of them. There was no communal clanship like today. Mr. Nadarajah’s most able and trusted junior was a Sinhalese. ‘KC Nada’s’ children and family were in England the son became barrister. ‘KC Nada’ visited them, but was practicing in Sri Lanka and appeared in important cases like the Ranjani Taxi cab murder. Only in 1983 was he thoroughly disgruntled when many of his relatives had to take refuge in refugee camps. Overnight, from being barons they became paupers were at the mercy of every one.

Bribe of Rs. 1000/- to obtain a telephone

Charge: That on or about the 10th of May 1959, you being the Minister of Posts, Broadcasting and Information did solicit a gratification of Rs.1,000 by way of gift from K. Siripawara Thero, of Dodanwela, as a reward or recompense in consideration of your promise to take action, in your capacity as such Minister, for the advantage of the said Siripawara Thero to wit: to allocate a telephone to Sri Bodhi Rukkaramaya Temple, Dodanwela.

The 10th of May was a Sunday and as was usual there were a number of people in the hall, come to meet the Minister. Siripawara went up to him about the telephone and he says the respondent then told him "I cannot do this free. You take Rs.1,000, go to Mulgampola, meet my younger brother and come through him." The respondent, he says, spoke in a low voice for him only to hear. At our inspection, we were satisfied that the respondent could have spoken to Siripawara Thero without being heard by anyone else in that hall. Siripawara then left. He told Gunapala "He wants Rs.1,000 to give a telephone", and the two of them went back to Kandy.

The only course open to the respondent, in his defence, was to attack Siripawara and discredit him as a person unworthy of credit. And that, the respondent’s counsel did as best he could. Siripawara was subjected to a severe cross-examination with a view to proving that his character was not such as befits a Bhikku. He was questioned about certain scurrilous letters about a girl published in the village, about a petition sent by one Podi Nona, about his relations with the then Village Headman, Dodanwela. It was even attempted to prove, when the case for the respondent was in progress, that he was or pretended to be a charmer practicing black magic, in order to influence high officials in their decisions by his charms and mantrams. From all the attacks, Siripawara Thero, in the opinion of the majority of us, came out with flying colours giving a satisfactory answer to all the accusations. The police offcers Mr. Van Rooyen, Superintendent of police Kandy, and Mr. J. A. Perera, at one time ASP CID, who were examined by us, have a good opinion of Siripawara Thero and had received no complaint against him

2nd allegation that was proved:

That in October 1957, you being the Minister of Posts, Broadcasting and Information, through your brother C. A. C. Marikkar did accept a gratification of Rs.5,000 by way of gift from one D. A. Jayakody of Katana as a reward or recompense in consideration of your promise to take action for the advantage of D. A. Jayakody and his partners in your capacity as such Minister to wit :- to influence the Government Agent, Kandy, to issue to D. A. Jayakody and his partners a temporary licence for sale of arrack at premises No. 44, Colombo Street, Kandy.

Sir John and Marikkar

When his Civic rights were to be removed, Marikkar as a last resort met Sir John Kotelawala to plead, seek relief, and to obtain the support of the UNP government to prevent them from introducing the motion to remove his Civic rights. Sir John, the Layard of Kandawala, said "I told Banda not to unleash these mad dogs and to keep them chained by me, but he did not listen to me. One dog shot him, the other dogs like you ate shit and I must remind you of the Sinhala saying ’Kala kala de pala pala de’ go face your fate like a Man’.

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...