Guild challenges Bar Association position
The Editors' Guild has challenged a Bar Association contention that
its President's speech calling for the punishment of journalists,
among others, for Contempt of Court has been endorsed by the council
of the lawyers union.
Bar Association secretary Ms. Anoma Goonetilleke, in a letter to
the Secretary to the Editors' Guild Secretary Mohanlal Piyadasa
this week claimed that the address of Bar Association (BASL) President
Ikram Mohamed PC at the ceremonial sitting to welcome Justice S.
Sri Skandarajah to the Court of Appeal referring to the press undermining
the public's confidence in the judicial system by attacking judges
has been "unanimously approved and adopted " by the Bar
had stated that a previous statement issued by the Editors' Guild
saying those comments of the BASL President are probably Ikram Mohamed's
personal views and do not reflect the views of the general membership
is therefore incorrect.
a reply to the BASL secretary, the Editors' Guild secretary has
said that its "clear understanding " is that while there
was a discussion at the Bar Council meeting on Mr. Mohamed's controversial
speech, there was no resolution proposed or seconded, no notice
of resolution given, no vote taken and therefore it was wrong to
say that his speech was "unanimously approved and adopted".
any event, the Guild secretary says that the Bar Council, while
being a representative body of the BASL, does not form the "general
membership" the Guild was referring to.
are not aware of the procedure followed at Bar Council meetings,
but one would expect that at any properly conducted meeting, any
matter that has been 'unanimously approved and adopted', would have
been put to a proper vote; and that too, after a resolution was
formerly proposed and seconded", the Guild letter stated.
Guild has said that they cannot therefore accept the position of
the BASL that Mr. Mohamed's comments were 'uanimously approved and
adopted'. Meanwhile, the Guild has also told the BASL secretary
that other issues raised in its statement condemning Mr. Mohamed's
for his remarks calling for the punishment of journalists, among
others, had been ignored, among them that the President of the BASL
should put his own house in order before pontificating about other
Guild had drawn attention to a survey conducted by the Marga Institute
on the subject of deteriorating public confidence in the judicial
system - a subject which Mr. Mohamed also had referred to in his
address. Extracts of the survey where lawyers were found fault with
for instances of bribery, laws delays etc., were also cited.
Guild has sent a copy of the submissions it made to the parliamentary
select committee on a proposed Contempt of Court Act and urged the
BASL to support these moves, while praising its members who have
been in the forefront of civil liberties, human rights and freedom
of expression in the country over the years.