22nd November 1998
Going against the manifesto
Bandula 'Show' Wickramasinghe has been re-appointed as the Director Crime Detective Bureau. The Government has expansively embraced 'Show' and given him a pat on the back.
The government's desire to compliment 'Show' for arresting a judge, who had given orders much to the consternation of the government, was delayed only because some misguided lawyers demonstrated and picketed against this brave act.
The government knew that soon dust would settle on the issue; that everyone would mind his or her own business and only a few lawyers would continue to lend support to a dying cause.
As expected 'Show' was appointed as the Director of Colombo Frauds Bureau. The government dealt a veritable slap again on the Supreme Court and the entire judiciary and the legal fraternity.
It did so in spite of the fact that the Supreme Court of this country has granted leave to proceed against him on an allegation that Mr. Wickramasinghe violated the fundamental rights of the High Court Judge Mahanama Tillakeratne.
The government ignored the fact that the High Court Judges of this country unanimously adopted a similar resolution that the officers concerned in the illegal arrest of Mahanama Tillakeratne be dealt with and disciplined.
For the first time in the history of the Judiciary of this country the Judicial Services Association and the High Court Judges Association met to discuss the arrest of Mr. Tillakeratne and passed a similar resolution condemning the arrest, requesting President Kumaratunga to direct the disciplinary inquiry against Mr. Wickramasinghe for arresting Mr. Tillakeratne.
The Bar sat at an emergency session to discuss the arrest and the Executive Committee resolution adopted at this session was amended at the Bar Council to give it more teeth.
T.G. Goonaratne moved that Mr. Wickramasinghe be interdicted. This resolution was adopted unanimously.
If the government pays no heed to the feelings of the judiciary it is infantile to think that the Executive would care any more for the feeling of the Bar.
It is a futile exercise to feel that the government would turn and make amends and punish those guilty of this attack on the judiciary.
All those in the Bar Association who feel that any overt act by the Bar to denounce the government attacks the judiciary is politically motivated, must ask themselves what they would do when the government instead of interdicting 'Show' Wickramasinghe appoints him in charge of another important branch of the Police Department called the Crime Detective Bureau.
They must know the Bar regained its prestige only when the Supreme Court granted leave, and there were men of the calibre of Ranjit Abeysuriya who relentlessly pursued the fundamental rights case against the AG and Mr. Wickramasinghe.
Kesbewa Magistrate Munidasa Nanayakkara noticed Mr. Wickramasinghe to appear before Court after he had been informed that Mr. Wickramasinghe had acted in excess of the legal authority vested in him to arrest Mr. Tillakeratne who had been earlier released on bail by him.
When Mr. Wickramasinghe appeared the Kesbewa Magistrate released him on bail and impounded his passport as he believed that there was prima facie material before him to charge Mr. Wickramasinghe for contempt of Court.
Later when it was brought to the notice of Mr. Nanayakkara that the alleged contempt was committed outside the precincts of the Court he realised the proper forum to deal with such a charge would be the Court of Appeal.
All the material collected by the Magistrate was submitted to the Court of Appeal and the file containing the papers had been circulated amongst the Judges of the Court of Appeal to decide whether a rule would lie against Mr. Wickramasinghe to show cause why he should not be convicted of contempt of Court.
This matter was discussed among all Judges of the Court of Appeal and C.V. Vigneswaran and P. Edussuriya were of the view that steps must be taken immediately to issue a rule.
It was clear though there were some references to a gun and cartridges being found in the possession of Mr. Tillakeratne, the report filed by the police before the Colombo Magistrate Court and later at Kesbewa clearly shows that the CID executed the warrant on the application made by State Counsel and issued by Court on the basis that Mr. Tillakeratne has committed an offence under Section 300 of the Penal Code, i.e. attempted murder of the complainant by shooting at him.
The State Counsel who appeared in the Magistrate Court categorically stated that he had come not to object for bail and was not aware that Mr. Tillakeratne had been released on bail and the warrant issued by the Court was surrendered by Mr. Wickramasinghe to the Magistrate.
Some Judges of the Court of Appeal were of the view that they should obtain the assistance of the Bar Association to frame charges as the Attorney General's Department was fully involved in some way in the illegal arrest of Mr. Tillakeratne.
It is expected that the Court of Appeal would without any delay decide on this very important matter which not only affects the Judiciary and the Bar and even the private citizens of this country. Otherwise no one will be free from arrest even after the Court has released that person on bail.
The notorious tradition of protecting and promoting Police Officers who violate fundamental rights of citizens at the instance and directions of the Executive was first introduced by the first Executive President of this country, J.R. Jayewardene.
This happened when he promoted Mr. Premadasa Udugampola, the Superintendent of Police, though he was found guilty of violating the fundamental rights of Rev. Daramitipola Ratanasara Thero. In December, 1982 an organization called 'Pevidi Handa' constituting members of the clergy, Buddhist and Christians, assembled at the Sama Vihara at Gampaha to oppose the extending of the life of Parliament for a further period of six years by a Referendum
The so called Referendum for the extension of the life of Parliament is now condemned by all right thinking people as an affront to electing a Government by free and fair elections.
The Rev. Ratnasara Thero and other members of the clergy printed 50,000 copies of a statement with names of signatories of those who oppose the Referendum when Premadasa Udugampola seized the leaflets from the possession of the priest and later proceeded to Sama Viharaya and recorded statements of priests who carried out a campaign against the infamous Referendum.
The Supreme Court consisting of five Judges held that Mr. Udugampola had violated the fundamental rights of the reverend priests and ordered Mr. Udugampola to pay Rs. 10,000/= to the priest. J.R. Jayewardene firmly in the saddle of the Executive Presidency having won the Presidential elections defeating Mr. Hector Kobbakaduwa went into tantrums.
The Court and the Judges he appointed under the new Constitution had declared that one of his favourite Police Officers, Mr. Premadasa Udugampola, had violated the fundamental rights of the reverend priests when he carried out the illegal orders of the Executive.
It would have been unfathomable to the great JRJ that the Judges of the Supreme Court appointed by him would even dream of making an order against his most faithful, trusted and obedient lieutenant in the Police Department, Mr. Premadasa Udugampola.
It would have further aggravated the matter as Rev. Daramitigala Ratnasara, the Chief Incumbent of the Sama Vihara was a loyalist of the SLFP and the Bandaranaikes.
JRJ not only directed that Premadasa Udugampola be promoted but also ordered the compensation ordered by the Supreme Court be paid from the State funds.
This is what Mr. Desmond Fernando, P.C. one of the most formidable leaders of the Bar said, about this incident.
"In 1983 came another attack on the prestige of the Court. The Supreme Court decided in the case of the Rev. Daramitipola Ratnasara Thero, Secretary of 'Pevidi Handa', that Udugampola, Superintendent of Police, Gampaha had violated the priest 's fundamental rights and ordered that compensation and costs be paid to the priest, the then Executive decided to pay the damages and costs out of public funds and promoted Udugampola.
The reason given by the then Executive was that Public Officers should do their job and follow their orders without fear of consequences from adverse Court decisions. Not only was it an attack on the prestige of the Court; but perversion of the law enforcement authority and a use of it to break the law and to violate the Constitution instead of upholding the law and the Constitution".
It is believed by the members of the Bar the immediate transfer of Mr. Wickramasinghe from the CID to the Police Headquarters by the President clearly demonstrated that there is no involvement of the Executive in the illegal arrest of Mahanama Tillakeratne.This was in spite of the fact the investigations took a new turn after the President ordered the CID to probe into the allegations.
The CID was activated after Mr. Tillakeratne delivered a judgement acquitting Dr Rajitha Senaratne, a UNP Member of Parliament.
But the appointment of Bandula Wickramasinghe as Director of another important section of the Police brings back the most unpleasant memories of yesteryear where the Executive ignored the recommendations of the Supreme Court and promoted and paid compensations to policemen who carried out illegal orders of the Executive.
This goes against the very spirit of the PA election manifesto that they would not repeat the acts of villainy during the seventeen year rule of the UNP specially in relation to the preservation of the Rule of Law, Human Rights and natural justice.
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