In my previous article, I dealt with the President’s call to law and order for prosperity. This article seeks to throw some clearer light on the President’s suggestion. Some repetitions are made to bring the subject into context and for the benefit of those who may not have read the previous article. Law for Prosperity [...]

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Law for Prosperity – the democratic socialist version


In my previous article, I dealt with the President’s call to law and order for prosperity. This article seeks to throw some clearer light on the President’s suggestion. Some repetitions are made to bring the subject into context and for the benefit of those who may not have read the previous article.

Law for Prosperity is today a quaint concept. Law for justice, for morality, for good governance and much more of these high qualities, on the other hand, have been common talk. The President’s recent statement on law and order for prosperity projects something new and propels further consideration. The idea of law in the reckoning of prosperity had been hitherto left in the void, in the law process. The topic ‘Law for Prosperity’ is now squarely in the right direction.

The waters, though, are uncharted. The boat is ever so leaking and unstable. The rocks and shallows are somewhat evident that the problem cannot easily be steered through in this quest of law for prosperity. Yet there is need, therefore, to start from base and get our bearings right.

Democratic- Socialist is the basic premise in our Republic’s Constitution. This factor governs all the provisions made under the constitution. This includes law making and, by extension, Law for Prosperity. Prosperity must surely be Democratic-Socialist for all the people to flourish. Law for Prosperity is then to ensure that all the people must thrive.

In Sri Lanka, law making, however, has so far been the direct opposite in that the law serves only the elite by way of law professionals to the exclusion of the people in general. Clearly there is little democracy, less socialism, in the law-making power in this country. This law-making power and the role of law professionals in this process are thereby not even a semblance of the Democratic or Socialist form that is envisaged. The reduction of this constitutional premise has been at the hands of the Ministries of Justice (MOJ), their Ministers, the Judiciary and the Courts, the BASL, the AG and Parliament. These authorities had little, even in pretense, to the Democratic- Socialist mode of law making.

This is a post-colonial situation that needs to be remedied if the Democratic-Socialist mode is to prevail. With the dawn of independence, law professionals arrogated to themselves the law-making power. Reference here is only to Prof Leslie Sebba of the Hebrew University – vide in the Book by Dr. Frank de Silva on Criminal Justice System and Future needs, – 2019 Stamford Lake chapter 1, p 2; wherein he discusses the subject extensively. Much of the legal authority cited in my articles in support of my contentions is taken from his book.

There have been just two exceptions in law for the people, but these changes for the people were stoutly resisted by the law-making professionals. For instance, the Conciliation Boards gave power direct to the people. Strangely though, this change of law was stoutly resisted by courts on grounds that such was a usurpation of judicial power, when, in fact, it was the people’s power that was usurped by the courts and law professionals. The second instance was in the 1973 Administration of Justice Law which was intended to cut down expenditure and waste of time of the people, in various ways.  This too was resisted by the vested interests of law professionals and ultimately changed in 1978 with political assistance after the change of government.

It is the Democratic -Socialist process of law making that is the best possible process to ensure law and order, more particularly of Law for Prosperity, on which the question now looms large.

The question whether money, power, and finance have overwhelmed the law-making process, equally hangs over. The aforesaid authorities would then be on line. As for simple matters, they can be dealt with little money involved.  Matters of more serious nature can be dealt with through representation. Yet more serious indictable cases can also be dealt with through representation under mediation of the AG. There are enough precedents and examples from abroad.

Money, power, and finance nevertheless befoul these prospects and hold their hands. Money and power which go with it are understood. But the idea of finance beyond money relates to the regular postponements of cases when the case to be dealt with grows in intensity not with the dispute itself, but with the money it later attracts. Following this are postponements on postponements. The laws thereby are far removed from the matter in issue. This attracts more and more money which may now be termed finance, a feature which now plays by itself. Finance now inevitably goes into the higher realms. Astronomical fees can possibly be understood in these terms. Instituted inquiries into laws delay however judiciously avoid any mention of these extortionate fees.

Law-making itself attracts or is attracted by money, power, and finance, not merely from laws delay and postponements. Only a recent example will be cited: The legislating/voting for the 20th Amendment is ample testimony for this.

“Money is their religion” – Karl Marx. It is little wonder then that Margret Thatcher said: Politicians and nappies must be changed often, for the same reason. There is no serious debate on the issues in Parliament. Money rules and lords over it.  These comments stem from practical experience.

Late Dr W. Dahanayake insisted with rustic wisdom: ‘More courts, more police, more crime’.

Again, in Galle in the 1960s: The Magistrate did not allow any postponement of cases. Lawyers and others adjusted themselves to that order. Money did not clutter proceedings.

In Vavuniya, many money cases were amicably settled between the parties in the absence of lawyers. Money and expenditure were not issues.

These and many practical experiences easily fall in alignment with Law for Prosperity. They promote the underlying urge for Democratic-Socialist revival. Law for Prosperity is, itself, by definition and inference, Democratic-Socialist. There is no idea here of Prosperity only for the elite and the professional law makers. Money, power and finance run through the sinews of the elite to which they are calloused that other concerns do not irritate them.

The reality, the lurking truth, is then the difference between Law of Prosperity and professional law making. Law of Prosperity is Democratic-Socialist. Professional law making is elitist. Prosperity for the people through law was, therefore, a commendable assertion by the President. To this end, the band must beat and reverberate to Law for Prosperity, provided all the king’s men walk the talk.

(The writer is a Retired Senior Superintendent of Police.
He can be contacted at;
TP 077 44 751 44)


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