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Thursday, May 23, 2024

How Chairman, Bribery Commission Compromised Its Independence

( Balapatabendi-Jayantha-Dilrukshi)

Minutes of the meeting held on 22.04.2015 at 2 p.m. at the Auditorium.

⦁ Chairman – Hon. Justice Jagath Balapatabendi
⦁ Commissioner 2- Hon. Justice L.M. Wimalachandra
⦁ Commissioner 3- Dr. Jayantha Wickramaratne
⦁ Director General- Mrs. Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe, President Counsel
⦁ Deputy Director General I- Mrs. Sunethra Jayasinghe
⦁ Deputy Director General II- Mrs. Ranjini Seneviratne
⦁ Director (Investigation)- SSP Mr. Somaweera
⦁ Additional Director (Investigation)- ASP Ruwan Kumara

The DG informed that the purpose of this meeting was to discuss a letter received from the Hon. Deputy Speaker of the Parliament dated 21.04.2015 and a minute of the Chairman placed in the said letter by the Chairman. She said several issues has arisen while she was overseas for an official commitment for 3 days from 19.04.2015 to 22.04.2015; especially she had read that the Chairman was summoned to the Parliament by the Hon. Speaker.

The Chairman then said that around 3pm on 21.04.2015, whilst he was at his residence, he had received a telephone call from the Secretary General of the Parliament (Dhammika Dasanayake esqr) that the speaker had requested the Chairman to come with the DG to the Parliament. He had then informed that the DG was overseas and the Secretary General had then told him that he will call him back after speaking with the Hon. Speaker. Thereafter, the Hon. Speaker himself had directly called him and had asked him to come to the Parliament. He had then informed the Hon. Speaker that his driver had gone home and therefore he had no way of coming. The Hon. Speaker had then arranged a vehicle for him to go to the Parliament.

At this juncture C3 informed the Chairman that it was inappropriate for him to have gone to the Parliament as this is an independent Commission. The Chairman then explained his actions which created a heated altercation between the Chairman and C3. The gist of C3’s argument was that the Chairman never called or informed C3 of the Hon. Speaker’s request. Then C2 confirmed that he was not informed too. He also said that the Commission consist of 2 other members apart from the Chairman and he learnt that the Chairman had gone before the Parliament only form the newspapers. He further said that the Chairman should not have gone to the Parliament when the Commission was the subject matter of discussion. C3 alluded that by going to the Parliament, the Chairmen had compromised the independence of the Commission.

Retaliating, the Chairman defended his attendance in the parliament by explaining that Hon. Speaker was his classmate and that he never went to meet the Hon. Speaker as Chairman of CIABOC but as a friend and classmate who was in a difficult situation and only to help him. He said simply Chamal met Bala for a chat in his chamber for an unofficial chat. The DG then said the Hon. Speaker has said in Parliament that the Chairman had given an assurance that he was willing to send CIABOC officers to the residence of suspects in the future. The Chairmen strongly said that he never discussed any matter of CIABOC nor gave any assurance to the Hon. Speaker that he will send the investigation officers to the Parliament to record statements. Indeed he said that Hon. Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe is the one who gave that assurance and that he had no knowledge of such assurance. He further said that during that chat the Secretary General and the Deputy Speaker was also present. C3 continued explaining that the Chairman should not have gone to the Parliament even as a friend to meet the Hon. Speaker when CIABOC was criticized in the Parliament and repeatedly emphasized the necessity of maintaining the independence of the Commission.

Whilst the altercation continued for over 15 minutes, DG intervened and said that if the meeting was unofficial & if the Chairman did not represent CIABOC in the Parliament nor discussed any matters relating to Hon. Tissa Attanayake M.P.’s investigation which seems to be the cause of the agitation in Parliament, then there is no point of further discussion on this matter. She then urged the Chairmen to make a press statement setting out these facts.

DG then said the Parliamentarians made several allegation that she as DG is arbitrarily conducting investigations and the Commissioners had no knowledge of it especially, Hon. Tissa Attanayake M.P.’s investigation, especially when she had kept the Commission informed of it. The Chairman then said he has no recollection of it and then DG said she could remind him what transpired at the meeting held on Friday, 17th April 2015, when she met the Commissioners in the Chairman’s office, (C2 absent) with DDG Sunethra Jayasinghe to discuss several matters. She said at that meeting she informed the Commissioners that Hon. Tissa Attanayake M.P.’s investigation was at the tail end and that the following week Hon. Tissa Attanayake M.P. and the former President Mahinda Rajapaksha’s evidence would be recorded. At that point Chairman said that before calling the former President Mahinda Rajapaksha the investigating officers (IOs) should be requested to meet the Commissioners. When the Chairman requested to bring the IOs before the Commission, C3 then informed that it is incorrect for the IOs to be brought before the Commission as such procedures have never been followed and said to let the IOs follow the usual procedure and send their report. C3 said after receiving the report the Commissioners could review it and make a direction. DG also said that in all other investigations that is how the business of the Commission is usually conducted. Upon reminding the above the Chairman agreed that he remembered the DG saying about Hon. Tissa Attanayake’s case. C3 too agreed that he said to Chairman, DDG Jayasing and the DG who was present that the calling the IOs to be present before the Commission to appraise the Commission regarding the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Tissa Attanayake was not appropriate.

Thereafter, the DG said she would like to clarify the minute that had been put by the Chairman in letter dated 21.04.2015 sent by the Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody, requesting his statement to be recorded in the Parliament on 29.04.2015 at 9.30am relating to BC/1871/2008/B(61). The minute of the Chairman said to comply with the Hon. Deputy Speakers request and record his statement in the Parliament. The DG suggested that in order to maintain the independence of the Commission we must have a flexibility in recording statements and give clear instructions in writing to the Investigation Division. She said that there are three categories of people that are investigated in a general investigations. Firstly, government officials as witness; secondly, lay witness as corroborative evidence; and thirdly, suspects where they are referred to as subjects. DG explained that before she came a standard template and procedure was adopted to inform either a witnesses or suspect to come before the Commission. She said she continued to use the same template and the procedure. However, she said that it is essential to revisit the templates and the procedure considering the new development in the Parliament and undertook to prepare the templates and submit it for the consideration of the Commission.

The DG also said that she had not received a communication from the Parliament and the Chairman also confirmed that he had not received any communication.

– LankaeNews


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