The Justice Ministry is in a quandary as to how to reclaim millions of rupees worth of movable and immovable properties from several retired High Court Judges who continue to use these properties illegally even after several years of retirement, a senior ministry official said yesterday.
Justice Ministry Secretary Suhada Gamlath said the ministry had even sought legal redress to reclaim these properties but the judges had refused to return them. This was an insult to the judiciary and the legal profession. “One lady judge who retired about three years ago is adamant in refusing to return her official vehicle with the number HS–8336 as required by the ministerial regulations. Another judge who retired in August, 2008 has refused to return his vehicle with the number HS–7848. Another High Court Judge who had served in the North had also not returned his official vehicle with the registration number HS–7893. The ministry continues to pay the monthly instalments to the finance company from where the vehicles had been purchased,” Mr. Gamlath said.
He said the wife of a late Justice Minister who died recently is using a brand new ministry vehicle illegally despite several requests to return it while the wife of another High Court Judge who was assassinated a few years ago had failed move out of their official residence at Bauddhaloka Mawatha.
Mr. Gamlath said this residence had to be given to a sitting judge while even a court ruling had not induced them to return their vehicles. “The District Court gave a ruling in favour of the Justice Ministry and ordered the retired lady HC judge to return the vehicle immediately. She went to the Court of Appeal against the order but the higher court endorsed the verdict but she has not returned the vehicle which I think is an affront to the judiciary, which she served,” Mr. Gamlath said.
He said all judges are entitled to a duty free vehicle permit on their retirement and it was revealed in courts that these judges had sold their permits for several millions of rupees and continue to use the vehicles which belong to the Ministry.
Mr. Gamlath said only a few of the retired judges behaved in this manner.
“Imagine how many people they may have convicted and sent to jail or fined for committing lesser offences than what they do now. This is a black mark on the judiciary as well as the legal profession,” said and added that many of these judges had returned to the private bar after retirement and earned a good income.
Source: Daily Mirror – Sri Lanka