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NewsIf the former Chief Justice had to undergo this barrage of intimidation and cruelty, what would be the plight of the ordinary people?

If the former Chief Justice had to undergo this barrage of intimidation and cruelty, what would be the plight of the ordinary people?

Persecution of the CJ 43- Editorial, Ceylon Today

The impeached Chief Justice, more commonly known as CJ 43, Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, has decided to stand her ground this time, not that she didn’t do so at the very beginning of an unethical process, which impeached her and removed her from that exalted position of Chief Justice of Sri Lanka. The apparent witch-hunt that was engineered by the government has now reached the portals of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC).

Yet, the strength of character of the former CJ sees her continuing with the fight, although against the State juggernaut, it may appear a futile endeavour. The methods used by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to deny her the rights and privileges during the first round of the witch-hunt, now appears as though being duplicated by the Bribery Commission.

According to media reports, when the CIABOC commenced its sessions investigating into the transactions that were alleged to have amounted to bribery last Wednesday (4 September), Dr. Bandaranayake had informed that she would not present herself before the Commission in the future, as she trusted neither the integrity of the process nor the Commissioners.

It was also reported that during a hearing, which lasted for an hour, the CJ had said the Commission was yet to respond to her objections of bias, submitted during the past hearings. Dr. Bandaranayake had said the Commission was prejudiced against her and she had been politically victimized. Her main concerns had been the failure on the part of the CIABOC to issue a ruling on the preliminary objections she had raised against two Commissioners, while proceeding to file a case at the Magistrate’s Court against her.

No doubt the former CJ had her reasons for claiming the two Commissioners she had named would be biased against her. However, if due process is offered to the two Commissioners in question, and even if one finds both of them eminently suitable to sit in judgment of the Ex-CJ in the matters raised at the Bribery Commission, it is nothing but plain courtesy that her objections are dealt with in a civil and legal manner and a ruling  be given. That is natural justice. It is also fair-play and the very rudimentary concepts a decent and civil society holds aloft. The denial of these fundamental rights to a former Chief Justice is both an insult to the Judiciary and democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution.

This government, propelled forward by toadies and sycophants who will most likely say the sky is green if those in the high echelons of power deem so, is in the process of deconstructing the art of governance to create a system that is totally in consonance with the notorious dictatorships that prevail in the so-called banana republics, whose literacy rate is no higher than the mid-thirties. Sri Lanka, on the contrary, boasts of being the most educated country in South Asia with an over 90% literacy rate, and if government statistics are to be believed, is now no more a poor country. We are supposedly enjoying a very healthy growth rate on the economic front. Yet, when it comes to ‘good governance’ there doesn’t seem to be anything good about it. All what one sees are signs of an unrelenting march towards authoritarian rule. Intolerance of dissenting views has become the law of the land.

The cruellest irony of all this development is that ‘bad governance’ is being exercised against the one-time chief law officer of the country. If the former Chief Justice had to undergo this barrage of intimidation and cruelty, what would be the plight of the ordinary people? That is the question burning inside every fair-minded person. It should be noted by every citizen that when one gives into unfair demands of the authorities, there is no end to that brutal backward march. Instead of proceeding forward as a free nation, we will be heading towards certain failure as a nation deserving the ignoble title of a ‘failed-State’

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