The Bar Association of Sri Lanka reacted strongly to news that the Bribery Commission had filed legal action against deposed Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and said all Members of Parliament and other elected officials who had not submitted their asset declarations must be charged under the same law.
BASL President Attorney-at-Law Upul Jayasuriya told Daily FT that he was “shocked and appalled” at the news that the Bandaranayake was being charged with non-declaration when the accounts in question contained a zero balance, according to bank records.
“There is little to say about this except that it is absurd,” Jayasuriya charged, calling on the Bribery Commission to take similar action against the Central Bank Governor for dubious share transactions made using EPF funds and the MP who was alleged to be in possession of Rs. 500 million in his bank account. “These incidents were highlighted and allegations made years ago – where is the movement on them?” Jayasuriya queried.
He charged that if Bandaranayake was going to be charged, then whichever MP or elected official or public official who had failed to declare their assets were all liable to be charged under the same regulations.
“Where is the guarantee of equality before the law, if she alone is targeted?” Jayasuriya told Daily FT. “A bank account with zero balance is not an asset. We expect statutory authorities have ordinary prudence – a bank account with a Rs. 2 or Rs. 10 cannot be considered an asset,” he charged.
The BASL Chief added that the Government was merely providing more ammunition for ministers and leaders of Commonwealth countries to raise concerns about the state of the country’s Judiciary and the rule of law situation.
“This proves that there is no prudence or justice in matters being filed before court and that statutory bodies are not acting within the framework of the law,” he said.