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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Very soon masses might lose protection from the judiciary – People’s Movement for Democracy

This is an instance of wrongfully using the legal provisions to bring in an impeachment and arbitrarily removing judges from their positions would deny the protection masses get from the judiciary states People’s Movement for Democracy. This was stated at a media conference organized by People’s Movement for Democracy held at the Public Library Auditorium today (5th) to apprise the media regarding pressure brought upon the judiciary by the government.

JVP Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath speaking at the media conference said, “The whole country knows that an impeachment motion has been brought against the Chief Justice. The immediate reason for bringing in the impeachment is the ‘Divi Neguma’ bill. This bill is one that has been brought in to enable the minister to manipulate funds in Samurthy banks. The bill allows the minister to decide whether to use the returns of funds for the welfare of the masses or for his political agenda. It is an unlimited power. Also, a rule that does not come under the regulations of the Central Bank has been proposed in the bill. It is a bill that has been presented with many flows. This bill will be presented to Parliament by Minister Basil Rajapaksa on the 10th. There was an attempt to get it passed in parliament secretly during the election campaign. The government wanted to get it passed when the courts were on holiday. However, several parties, recognizing the illegality of the bill, filed a case in Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided that the bill has to be passed by all provincial councils. The bill was again presented to parliament. However, parties sought relief from Supreme Court again.

The masses also know that the Secretary of the Judiciary Service Commission issued an announcement regarding pressure from powerful people to the Judiciary Service Commission. It was not the personal need of the Secretary but a decision that had been taken by the Commission. Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake and two other Supreme Court Judges are the members of this commission. Subsequently, the Secretary of the Judiciary Service Commission Manjula Tillekeratne was assaulted. The perpetrators have not been arrested yet. What the government did was to carry out a mudslinging campaign against Mr. Manjula Tillekeratne. This indicates the breaking down of the law in the country. The government attempted to terrify the judiciary by attacks, mudslinging and threats. Also, an attempt was made to pressurize the judiciary by hastening the investigation that had been in Bribery Commission for a long time against the husband of the Chief Justice. Without stopping at that an attempt was made to build in the country a dialogue regarding the 13th amendment. The government attempted to bring separatism to Courts Complex at Hultsdorp. The government hoped to charge that the judiciary was mediating for separatism if a judgment was given against it and through this it hoped to pressurize the judiciary.

The impeachment that is brought against the Chief Justice is not brought against Ms. Shirani Bandaranayake personally. It is an attempt by the executive to manipulate the judiciary by doing away the much needed balance between the executive, legislature and the judiciary.  It is an impeachment brought against democracy. People shedding all their differences but those who cherish democracy have joined today to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens of this country. We condemn the attack on the judiciary and would take all measures that could be taken on behalf of the judiciary.

Many women were murdered, raped and children were abused in many places in the island including Akuresssa, Tangalle and Kahawatta. The political authority was behind many of these atrocities. This authority has started attacking the Supreme Court now. The impeachment is brought mainly against alleged ‘misconduct’ of the Chief Justice. The main person who brings in the misconduct charge is Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi. The question we have is how a woman like Pavithra Wanniarachchi makes such an allegation against the personal life of the Chief Justice. She sould have stood before the mirror before she presented this motion. The government has carried out the biggest insult that could be carried out against a woman.  The worst allegation that could be aimed at a woman in Asian society is misconduct. The government has come down to this low and bankrupt level. It carried out the lowest and the most deplorable acts to be in power. The government is attempting to destroy all those who stand for justice. This is what it did to the Army. The Army was silenced by imprisoning Mr. Sarath Fonseka and smashing a Major’s head. Now the highest position of the judiciary is being attacked to silence the judiciary. We invite all those who cherish democracy to join the protest march that will commence from Courts Complex at Hultsdorp tomorrow.

Attorney Krishmal Warnasuriya speaking at the press conference said, “We are not discussing a topic that opposes or supports the President or the government. It is also not a topic that supports the Chief Justice or opposes her.  It is a serious matter that goes beyond personal issues but is relevant to the sovereignty of the people that exists in the Constitution.

An illegal conversation that we hear lately is that th Parliament is more powerful than the judiciary. According the Constitution of 1978 this is a very erroneous factor. It exists in countries such and England where there is a royalty. However, in countries like Sri Lanka that are governed according to a Constitution the executive, the legislature and the judiciary have the same power. The statements made by the government are false.

We believe that the attack against the judiciary is due to the judgment given regarding ‘Divi Neguma’ bill.

Sovereignty is the people. This power that belongs to the people is temporarily given over to the executive, legislature and the judiciary. These three have equal power. The sovereignty is with the people. The legislature has provisions to bring in an impeachment motion if the sovereign power of the judiciary unbalances the checks and balances between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.  We have precedents of impeachments brought against former Chief Justices Neville Samarakone and Sarath N Silva. However, we have no precedents regarding the completion of those impeachment motions. The impeachment could be entered into the agenda. However, the Supreme Court has given a judgment that the power that exceeds the power of the judiciary is not legal according to standing orders of 78 (a). The court decided that it is an instance of Parliament grabbing the power of eh Supreme Court.

It is necessary to decide whether the judiciary ahs really violated the sovereignty of the people or the government has brought in the impeachment motion for its advantage. Secondly, it is necessary to consider whether it could be implemented against an institution that enjoys sovereignty of the people even if an impeachment has been presented legally.”

Attorney Karunaratne Herath addressing the media said, “The process of the impeachment could be defined as one that could be brought in according to clause 107, a legal matter that is not suitable for the country but exists in the 1978 Constitution. According to clause 107 the passing of such resolution, the investigation and proof of the alleged misbehaviour or incapacity is carried out by Members of Parliament. When compared with other countries bringing in such an impeachment against a Supreme Court Judge is inappropriate. According to 78 Constitution the executive has powers to bring in such an impeachment. However, the flow in this process we see as legal professionals and citizens is that the executive power and power in parliament are used to pressurize the judiciary to get decisions they need. This is the illegality and the unethical move we see in this process.

The impeachment motion was handed over on the 1st. However, there was talk several days before that an impeachment motion would be filed. After the judgment regarding the ‘Divi Neguma’ bill the secretary to the Judiciary Service Commission issues an announcement that there is interference to the judiciary. The whole world knows the pressure comes from a position that has been exempted from the legal processes. It is the presidency. The judiciary cannot take any legal action against the executive presidency. Hence, it is very clear who pressurizes the judiciary.

Also, the investigations regarding fraud charges against the husband of the Chief Justice commence only after the judgment of the first case against ‘Divi Neguma’ is given. Until then no step had been taken regarding this charge. By hastening the investigations the judiciary is pressurized to give a decision favourable to the government. The judgment of the ‘Divi Neguma’ bill was handed over to the President on the 31st October. Though we are not aware of the judgment the President and the Speaker are aware of it. We would know it on the 6th. What is interesting is the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice is handed over to the Speaker on the 1st. It is very clear that the impeachment motion is brought in as they are aware of the ‘Divi Neguma’ judgment. This is an instance of wrong use of the legal right to bring in an impeachment. Allowing the Parliament, the legislature to interfere in the judiciary would deny the protection masses have from the judiciary.

Attorney Lal Kumarapeli- National Intellectuals and Professionals Organization (NIPO), Attorney Sunil Watagala, Attorney Chaminda Gunasekera, Dr, Rohan Fernando  of the National Intellectuals and Professionals Organization (NIPO), Attorney Sumana Benaragama, President – Women for Rights, renowned artist Chandrasoma Binduhewa, Ms. Sanddddya Eknaligoda and Ms. Vishaka tillekeratne (Women’s movement for better Governance) were also present.


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