24th June 2001
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Justice undone

The Speaker's decision on the court ruling staying the accept- ance of the Chief Justice's impeachment motion, was finally delivered to a waiting nation. It put paid to the efforts made by a coterie of persons to tamper with this country's constitution.

The Supreme Court has apparently been reduced in credibility, stature and importance by the June 6 decision which was delivered with such great dispatch. If this decision can be so manifestly flawed as the Speaker says and an undermining of the judicial process, one might as well legitimately ask, questions about some other decisions concerning the same and other issues with similarly important political connotations.

The Supreme Court bench, it cannot be understated, came out in a poor light, and we need to ask whether it was successful in reducing this nation in one fell stroke, to the stature of a legal dictatorship. Even the credulous would raise questions about the errors of judgment with a sense of legitimate bewilderment. Of course, the least that is said about President's Counsel lawyers and other bureaucratic blunderers who were a part of this conspiracy, it is the better.

Having said that, Speaker Anura Bandaranaike must receive the applause for having the courage of his conviction to rule as he did. We would commend, in particular the obiter dicta in the 29 page order therein, in which he opines that the Standing Orders of parliament should be amended so that errant judicial officers could be investigated by their peers from foreign countries, or by eminent persons in this country who are not bound by the party whip in Parliament. Not, one might add, in the light of recent events, by fellow judges. This logic stands to reason. A good and forthright Chief Justice such as Neville Samarakoon, was hung by a hostile House with a steamroller majority. A bad judge however, can get away with the most appalling misbehavior, if he has, to act on his behalf, a political majority in the House.

Once the future of a Chief Justice, or even a judge is brought into the political domain, one sets in motion a process that would end in the inevitable destruction of the last bastion of freedom and civil liberty in a democracy. The same about leaving the fate of judges to persons of the calibre of some of today's judicial officers.

All this essentially can indicate to one damning pointer. For most persons in this land, going to court today in pursuit of Justice and the Rule of Law is sometimes like going to the police station in search of the same. If you are on the right side of the powers that be, you could, possibly, get away with murder. If you are on the wrong side of the potentates, you may need the help of the devas. 

Parlour politics

Rauf Hakeem may like Dedaulus, seemed to have flown too close to the sun, resulting in his wings melting away. The Minister of this-that-and-everything-in-between is suddenly Mr. Nobody. Ashraff was a consummate politician, and Hakeem who had not been called to do anything like establishing a political party, would have found it difficult to match his late leader's style. He started practising what many see as communal politics of the type, which disturbed some conservative Muslims, and even those of the hard-boiled SLMC. The danger of that sort of communal politics would divide this country right down the middle, and this would equally go for all ethnic based political parties that are stirring this multi-ethnic country Sri Lanka .
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