JSC: More questions than answers
By Victor Ivan
The Judicial Services Commission has issued a statement in response to
criticism contained in an International Bar Association report that analysed
the state of Judiciary in Sri Lanka.
According to the JSC statement, the commission has taken measures of
disciplinary control of Judges in accordance with the law. However, the
statement says nothing about the alleged partiality shown by the judiciary
with regard to the case of Magistrate Lenin Ratnayake and District Judge
Upali Abeyratne — two judicial officers who, according to some analysts,
were alleged to be responsible for causing a crisis in the judiciary of
It was on August 17, 1997 that a newspaper levelled a charge of rape
against Magistrate Ratnayake. Thereafter, the newspaper claimed that Mr.
Ratnayake had been dismissed from his earlier employment at the Sri Lanka
Insurance Corporation after being found guilty of a fraud.
When the alleged rape story was reported in the newspaper, attorney
Kalyananda Thiranagama on behalf of the raped woman made formal plaints
to the JSC and to the Supreme Court, based on two affidavits from her and
But the JSC took 23 months to initiate an inquiry into that incident.
Why? A three-judge committee of Inquiry consisting of Appeal Court judges
was appointed by the Judicial Services Commission to inquire into the charges
and it ruled that the Magistrate was guilty of camouflaging his 'dishonorable'
past for the purpose of joining the Judicial Service as well as of rape.
But the JSC did not take deterrent action against Mr. Ratnayake.
The judiciary handed over to the Attorney General's Department the responsibility
of framing charges against the Magistrate and pending this action sent
him on compulsory leave on full pay. But, 27 months after, the matter remains
The complaint made to the JSC by Chemical Engineer Jayasekera against
District Judge Upali Abeyratne, also was taken up for inquiry.
By the time Sarath Silva was appointed to the post of Attorney General,
those two Judges had inquired into the complaint, prepared a formal charge
sheet, and had sent it to Judge Abeyratne, calling for his response in
writing within one month.
The JSC must explain to the country what happened to that inquiry?
It was only after a request made to the Chief Justice by the congress
of former presidents of the Bar Association in response to continuous agitation
made by a newspaper that the Judicial Services Commission was compelled
to revive the suppressed inquiry.
The inquiring committee consisting of three Appeal Court Judges found
the District Judge guilty of all the charges. The Commission immediately
decided to sent the judge on compulsory retirement.
However, surprisingly the JSC took a different action by suspending
the judge's promotions for two years and transferring him to Moneragala.
The JSC' response to the change of action was that it took this decision
after considering an appeal made by President's Counsel Faiz Mustapha on
behalf of the judge.
If the commission had any respect for natural justice, it should have
considered the appeal only in the presence of the complainant's lawyers.
It was me that the commission considered to be the complainant in the inquiry
against Magistrate Lenin Ratnayake. Although the committee of inquiry had
given me the right to obtain the daily reports of the inquiry the reply
given by the JSC when I asked it for the report containing the conclusions
of the committee of Inquiry was that it would not be given. However, one
of the terms included in the Beigin Accord is that the reports of disciplinary
inquiries conducted with regard to Judges must be treated as public documents.
- The writer is the editor of Ravaya
Farewell sweet prince
By M. Ismeth
"His life was gentle and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man."
"I don't mind even dying after making Ranil Wickremesinghe the Prime
Minister," were the words of the late Transport, Highways and Aviation
Minister Gamini Atukorale uttered to some of his close associates.
The mission has been accomplished but he did not see the fruits of his
labour. The void he left behind by his untimely death is definitely not
going to be that easy for the UNP leadership to fill. Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe
would feel the loss more as he had associated with him for more than two
decades facing the ups and downs of the political arena.
Mr. Atukorale was one of the younger men put forward by the UNP in 1977.
He was born on April 2, 1951 and was educated at Colombo's St. Peter's
He started his political career at 22 and became an MP at 26. The Nivitigala
electorate remained an LSSP or SLFP stronghold for over 20 years until
Mr. Atukorale won it for the UNP in 1977.
His appointment as Youth Affairs and Employment deputy minister in 1977
was the stepping stone for him to finally rise to the position of assistant
leader of the UNP.
Mr. Atukorale was at the Hilton last Sunday hosting a dinner for his
well-wishers comprising lawyers, friends and of course some media personnel
with whom he had a close rapport.
It is learnt that he had hosted the dinner to meet his friends before
he could get cracking with his work from Monday. Those who knew him well
say he was a workhorse and a man of the masses.
Going from table to table the affable minister inquired from every guest
whether he had dinner and one wouldn't have, even in his wildest dreams,
dreamt that a man of his calibre would depart from us on the New Year day.
Although he was a planter he spent his wealth for the people of his
electorate. Dr. Rajitha Senaratne once said Mr. Atukorale's father used
to say his son always wanted money from him to be given to the poor.
After the 1994 defeat Mr. Atukorale set about reorganizing the party
with Ranil Wickremesinghe. Both of them visited every nook and corner of
the country mobilising support for the UNP.
Mr. Atukorale was the UNP livewire and his loss will remain irreparable.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has lost his trusted lieutenant. This
could be compared to the death of Dudley Senanayake whose loss was severely
felt by President J. R. Jayewardene when the UNP was swept back to power