5th Column

Justice straight from the jungle


My Dear AG-to-be,

I thought I must write to you because you are to be appointed as the country’s top legal officer at a time when there is a crime wave and everyone is complaining that there is no law and order in the country.

So, even though everyone will be rushing to congratulate you these days, you will need to be careful, AG-to-be. That is because there is no such thing as ‘job security’ even in the high office that you will be holding. If you are in doubt about that, just ask some of your predecessors.
Why, the lady who held your job before you lasted less than a year, didn’t she? It was made to look like she got a promotion but usually when one goes from your office to where she went, one gets the top job there but that didn’t happen and it looks like she was kicked upstairs through no fault of her own!

Then there was the gentleman before her. He lasted a little bit longer but didn’t he get himself into a pickle by talking about a missing journalist and saying that he was “living overseas somewhere”? The moral of the story is, in your job, never talk of what you don’t know enough about!
I am sure you will be quite busy in your new job, AG-to-be. For example you will have to deal with that case where a ruling party parliamentarian is an accused in the murder of one of his own party members.

Until now, our clever Police force couldn’t locate the chap who was said to be so severely injured that he couldn’t walk or speak. Then the Prime Minister in his own inimitable way tells us that he was visited by this gentleman in a hospital in Singapore. Now I guess they would expect you to find him and bring him to justice and that is why I don’t envy your new job, AG-to-be.
But you do have your successes as well. Why, it was only this week that your department successfully appealed against a sentence given to the accused in the Royal Park murder.

Now, I am not sure whether you will appeal against any sentence in the case where the parliamentarian is an accused, if you felt that it was not enough. If you really want to make history as an AG, there’s a short cut!

Then we also have that gentleman who surrendered to courts after an incident where two rathu sahodarayas were shot dead at a meeting. Unlike our parliamentarian who was so elusive, this gentleman was kind enough to present himself to courts after he suddenly realised that there were five warrants out for his arrest!

I am wondering whether you would be repaying him for his kindness in any manner, even though he is supposed to have been visiting jails and speaking to prisoners while having all those warrants out for him. I think you should, shouldn’t you?
Your job may have got just a bit easier from now on though because they recently imposed a hefty fee to register news websites. That means less people will be able to take to the internet and insult others and you wouldn’t have to worry about appearing for those officials who claim they have been defamed. I suppose that could be a change for the better.

I know some people who are up in arms saying this is an attempt to curb freedom of expression, but AG-to-be, I am sure you will disagree. After all, registering all these websites and charging them a fee will only make everything seem so above board!

In fact, since the powers that be rely on you for legal advice, AG-to-be, how about suggesting a similar scheme for secretaries of ministries as well, especially since it was only this week that one and a half dozen ministry secretaries were appointed.
You could suggest that they should also be registered and monitored about what they say in public, so that they don’t get into unnecessary controversies involving aeroplanes, dogs, pigs and various others animals. It would keep everyone in check, don’t you think?

Then, you should also consider registering all those elected representatives from the ruling party-and from opposition parties as well. Maybe you could charge a ‘deposit’ fee from them, a million rupees perhaps considering the Cabraal-induced inflation that we have, which they would automatically forfeit if they are charged with offences like rape, murder or even robbing archaeological artefacts from museums.
I am sure the scheme will work very well. It will compel all these Pradeshiya Sabha members to think twice before they go about killing, robbing and raping. Of course, just to make the scheme more cost effective, you could have a higher deposit amount for MPs and ministers and a special rate for people like Mervyn!

I do wish you well, AG-to-be. I hope you will be able to do a proper job and do it well. Ah, as they say, hope springs eternal, doesn’t it?

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha

PS-I don’t think you should worry about your retirement plans right now, AG-to-be. If you play your cards right, you could become an ambassador somewhere or at the very least, become the head of the next Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission!

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