Parallel probe by all-party committees .
By Chathuri Dissanayake.
The tribunal set up to probe corruption will be an improved version of the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) of 1972, justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said yesterday.
“We will have to work out special laws to deal with corruption in mega projects and do it fast and effectively,” he told the Sunday Times.
In 1971, the then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike appointed the CJCs — one to probe the 1971 insurrection and the other to probe foreign exchange rackets.
Monitoring the setting up and functioning of the tribunal would be one of the two main responsibilities of the party leaders’ committee appointed to look into corruption allegations against the previous regime, the minister said.
The committee comprises Mangala Samaraweera, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Rauff Hakeem, R. Sampanthan, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, M.A Sumanthiran, Sarath Fonseka, Jayampathi Wickremeratne, J.C. Weliamuna and Malik Samarawickrama
On the instructions of this committee, a Rapid Response Committee has also been set up and it will be coordinated by JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. The rapid response team would decide on charges on which the probe needed to be fast-tracked, Mr. Rajapakshe explained.
The Rapid Response Committee chaired by Minister Rajapakshe includes Ministers Ranawaka, Samaraweera and Hakeem. This will also include police officers, state officials, attorneys and specialists in finance and auditing.
These committees will work independent of the Commission probing allegations of bribery or corruption. This commission is conducting inquiries into 30 complaints already made against the Rajapaksa regime after it was defeated.
The committees will instead carry out their own investigations and gather evidence for prosecution. They would then file complaints in the Bribery or Corruption Commission, Mr. Rajapakshe said.
“The issue we have had with the commission so far is that it will entertain a complaint only if there is enough evidence. There have been times when complaints were discarded due to lack of evidence. Therefore, we will investigate and file complaints once we are satisfied with the evidence collected. Then the commission is bound to investigate,” he said.
Mr. Rajapakshe said he believed this would be a good alternative as most people appeared to have lost faith in the Commission. He said the people could now make complaints to the party leaders’ committee also.