Only disciplinary action against an individual: Impeachment – nothing to do with independence of Judiciary
Posted on December 15th, 2012

Courtesy The Sunday Observer

We exposed the hidden hands and interested parties behind most of the recent protests supporting an individual who has been found guilty of conduct that is unbecoming for a person holding the senior most position in the Judiciary.

We have the highest respect for the Judiciary and would always voice for the independence of the Judiciary. However, the present scenario has nothing to do with the independence of the Judiciary. It is only a matter of an individual who has been found guilty of conduct that is unbecoming of such a highly respected and dignified position.

Unfortunately, that person happened to be Dr. Mrs. Shirani Bandaranayake who is the Chief Justice. Hence, the ongoing process is not against the country’s Judiciary or the Chief Justice, but against Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake who has been found guilty of three serious charges by a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC).

There have been many dialogues, conferences, newspaper articles and radio/television debates on the matter. Most of the black-cloaked men who organised protests either are politically motivated or have links to local NGOs/thrive on INGO funding. However, none of them have factually challenged the decisions of the PSC. None of those who make a song and dance in support of Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake have come forward to deny any of the three charges for which she has been found guilty.

Instead, these traitors bring various other excuses and seek legal opinion to shield an individual who has even obtained a discount of Rs. 1.6 million when purchasing an apartment from Trillium Residences on attorney power for her sister.

Traitors

It is still fresh in our minds about the traitors who did their damnedest and made every effort to capture power at any cost during the 2010 Presidential election. The same forces are using the impeachment motion as a tool and try to make use of Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayke to put their personal agendas in motion.

The LTTE rump, a section of the Tamil Diaspora, certain Western politicians and those who thrive on INGO funding had been making every effort to disrupt Sri Lanka’s 2006-2009 battle against terrorism. However, when the Security Forces vanquished the LTTE leadership and eradicated terrorism, the LTTE rump, a section of the Tamil Diaspora, certain Western politicians and INGO agents adopted a different strategy with the help of opportunist Opposition politicians who had been rejected by the people at successive elections.

It is now clear that these sinister agents are making every effort to capitalise on the impeachment motion against Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake and the subsequent Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) hearing. We do not know whether Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake is aware of this situation and that these traitors and NGO goons are trying to use her case to achieve their political goals.


Parliamentary proceedings

With due respect for the post of the Chief Justice and Parliament, we would like to stress that the current action against Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake is a disciplinary hearing against a senior most person in the Judiciary. Disciplinary action against judges, other than those in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, are taken by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). However, the JSC has no such authority when it comes to judges in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. Then who has the power to take action against any improper conduct of senior most judges? What is the mechanism if a judge of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal, the Chief Justice or the Chairman of the Court of Appeal conduct himself/herself in a manner that is unbecoming for those highly respected and senior most positions in the Judiciary?

Only mechanism

The one and only mechanism in dealing with such situations constitutionally is by bringing an impeachment motion in Parliament. Do those UNP and JVP lawyers and those who have NGO links expect immunity for Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake? Or are they trying to justify all those charges against her, including 1, 4 and 5 for which the PSC has found her guilty.

With all due respect to the Supreme Court, one wonders how ethical it is for Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake to sit in the Bench even after the PSC had given its ruling. Having examined the verbal and written evidence against her, the PSC has found her guilty of charges 1, 4 and 5. The PSC did not find her guilty of charges 2 and 3 due to lack of sufficient evidence.

The Committee has further decided that in view of the very grave nature of the charges 1, 4 and 5, it will be a futile exercise to seek evidence to convict her on charges 2 and 3.

The Committee has concluded that charges 1, 4 and 5 have been proved and the serious nature of such charges warrant the dismissal of Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake from the post of Chief Justice.

The charges levelled against Chief Justice Bandaranayake include over 20 undeclared bank accounts in the assets and liabilities, taking over the Ceylinco case heard by another Bench, buying an apartment from the company on Ceylinco Attorney papers, undeclared foreign currency deposits to the tune of Rs. 34 million and Rs 19,362,500 in undisclosed funds.

Members of the affected Golden Key Depositors Association told a press conference recently that Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake, as the Chief Justice, personally took the Golden Key Financial Fraud case under her wing on the basis of an incomplete affidavit submitted by a single person. She has done so when Justice Shirani Thilakawardena had been hearing the Golden Key Financial Fraud Case successfully in an impartial manner. They said, usually, a person submitting an affidavit should finally mention the relief prayed by him or her in it, but in this case, an affidavit which did not list the relief prayed had been accepted by the Chief Justice. The depositors who attended a recent media event in Colombo alleged that the Chief Justice, in writing, granted permission for them to make individual submissions in the case when they sought such relief through a petition, an affidavit and motion, but most surprisingly, she later refused such permission as the case proceeded.


Supreme Court complex

They said at that stage, the Chief Justice told them that the order in the case would apply equally to all and tried to block individual submissions, ignoring the written permission granted by her earlier.

Further explaining this matter, a member of the Golden Key Depositors Association said, “Various parties are misleading the public about this case by issuing various statements. When one takes a closer look at those who are prominent in the protests in support of Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake, it is evident that Attorneys such as Wijayadasa Rajapaksha, Srinath Perera and Anil Perera, who are appearing on behalf of the Golden Key Company in the above case, are the very same persons conducting protest campaigns against the impeachment motion.

Supreme Legislature

“If there is no proper administration of justice forthcoming from the Judiciary, we have to seek help from the Supreme Legislature as a final resort. Therefore we propose that the Government should intervene and do justice to the affected,” the depositors of the failed Golden Key Finance Company said.

“If Lalith Kotelawala can pay millions of rupees to retain lawyers, why can’t he instead use that money to repay us depositors our dues? Instead, he is living in luxury today, breaching all his bail conditions. Granting a long-term visa for Cecille Kotelawala to live in England inspite of an open warrant for her arrest is another puzzle,” they said.

The unfortunate victims of Golden Key firmly believe that the Government will pay attention to their grievances and do justice to them. Although they come from distant areas, they attend each and every hearing in this case.

“Already, nearly 20 of our members have died and another 110 are in critical condition healthwise. Those who make a big hue and cry on the justice meted to Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake should also respect the rights of Golden Key depositors. Do they consider Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake obtaining Rs. 1.6 million when purchasing a luxury apartment from Trillium Residencies as a pardonable offence? It has been proved that she was given a Rs. 1.6 million discount on a housing unit she purchased.

An official allied to the Ceylinco Group of Companies (allied to the Golden Key company), testifying before the PSC had stated on oath. The company official has been asked by PSC members why the discount was given, and he had said simply, “because she was hearing cases that involved our company and we thought it fit to do so.”

However, Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake never stood down from the Bench after she obtained that discount. Is this the integrity and independence of the Judiciary that those who sympathise with Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake are talking about? Undoubtedly, that was a clear case of misdoing, and as for not declaring assets, it is a jailable offence for a public servant, according to PSC members.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa told media heads last week that the highest standards were expected from the Judiciary – more so than from a Member of Parliament who has to face the voters, which is why Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake should have stood down from the post of Chief Justice until her name was cleared.

In the past, in the US, a judge was impeached simply because his wife had been repeatedly hosted to lunch by a company whose cases the judge heard. Though the judge was unaware of the said lunches, he was impeached.

According to Minister Wimal Weerawansa, Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake was doing all those things while hearing the Golden Key case, and this was after all a case that was about the hard-earned money of very ordinary depositors. “She was holding such litigants to ransom – by purchasing discounted houses from the same concern,” he told Thursday’s breakfast meeting with media heads.

Concocted story

It is now evident that the story which did the rounds that Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake was verbally abused by two members of the PSC was a concocted one. Perhaps, it is easy to fabricate such stories to get public support and sympathy.

Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, who served as the Chairman of the PSC categorically denied such accusations. He said that Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake was never verbally abused by any member of the PSC though she attended the meetings with the preconceived plan of walking out of it. “She, from the beginning of the PSC proceedings, claimed she had no confidence in it, and therefore her modus operandi of hoping to walk out without offering a defence was evident from the very start,” he said.

Initially, Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake had refused to take the oath before the PSC proceedings and did so after much persuasion. Minister Yapa said they felt that Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake had come with a premeditated plan to spurn the PSC, as the charges which were to be probed were serious, and she was guilty of them. The only way of responding was to walk out of the PSC saying she had lost confidence in the PSC hearings, they stated.

No Opposition members who were in the PSC had stated that she was verbally abused by any member of the PSC. Furthermore, verbatim transcripts of the PSC inquiry will show there was no misconduct on the part of any member of the PSC body, and the public will be privy soon to these documents, it was said.

Impeachment is the due process laid down in the Constitution in the face of any wrongdoing. This was in the Constitution under which the impeachment of the then Chief Justice Neville Samarakoon in 1978 was mooted and Hansard reports at that time stated that this was the only way to investigate a Chief Justice “”…” and the present Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was also in Parliament.

Though UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa takes a different stance, his father R. Premadasa, too has supported the previous impeachment motion against CJ Samarakoon.

Hence, the current impeachment motion against Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake has nothing to do with the independence of the Judiciary, but is purely constitutional disciplinary action on her conduct that is unbecoming of the Chief Justice.

The Parliament has the power, not only to impeach senior-most members of the Judiciary, but also the Executive President. Can Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake run away halfway through the PSC proceedings and go scot free for the serious charges that have been levelled against her and proved at the PSC?

Immunity

Do those lawyers and INGO agents who shout from the rooftops at Hulftsdorp expect immunity for Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake? One wonders whether there is any interconnection between the withdrawal of Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake from the PSC proceedings and the subsequent withdrawal of the four Opposition members from the PSC.

The opportunist Opposition politicians, INGO agents and certain foreign hands have thrown their full weight behind some of these protests organised in support of Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake. Such protests have done nothing but bring disrespect to the legal profession.

Protestors who thronged the Hulftsdorp Court Complex on Wednesday, stating that they were in support of Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake ended up brawling after one group of lawyers broke away from the original protestors, claiming that certain dollar-making elements were trying to destroy Sri Lanka in partnership with the Chief Justice.

They vehemently refused to support Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake who faced serious integrity charges before the PSC. They maintained that the law in the country applies equally to all, and whoever violates that law should be penalised despite their position or status. Less than 200 lawyers led by Sri Lanka Lawyers’ Association (SLLA) Chairman, President’s Counsel Wijedasa Rajapaksha had gathered at the scene to stage the protest despite the absence of SLLA Deputy Chairperson Anoma Gunathilaka. She did not participate in the protest.

Due to the rally, case hearings were delayed and people began criticising the lawyers for delaying their litigation, though grabbing their money with the promise of finishing their cases soon. The misconduct of these lawyers cannot be approved and they should help carry out legal proceedings and should not fall prey to extraneous agendas.

One group of lawyers were in agreement with the protesting public and categorically denied that there was a lawyers’ protest in support of the CJ. “The protest which runs on dollar earnings cannot be accepted”, they charged.

Those who sell human rights and talk about transparency are only tarnishing the good name of the country for personal gains. Now that Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake has been found guilty on three serious charges, she will have to face the consequences and respect the final verdict of the Legislature which is supreme and represent the power of the people. She will not be able to evade that by citing the independence of the Judiciary or through protests by lawyers.

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