CJ must follow her own advice
Posted on December 29th, 2012

Courtesy The Daily News 

Although widely expected, Dr Shirani Bandaranayake did not use the Forum of the Annual General Meeting of the Judicial Services Association to provide a response to the charges against her and plead her innocence. Normally, if any person believed that he had been charged wrongfully by any tribunal, he would have used a forum where his peers were present, to offer a response to the charges, and allay any doubts that his peers may have entertained in their minds about his conduct in the relevant matter. But, strangely, Dr Bandaranayake did not make use of the opportunity of addressing the judicial officers, to plead her innocence among her peers, which perhaps confirms the suspicion that she has no defence in the face of the charges, and that she is trying to deflect the charges, by focusing on alleged procedural imperfections.

It must however be admitted that Dr Bandaranayake’s speech contained many important messages which are relevant to the impeachment motion and the independence of the judiciary. In particular, her thoughts in relation to the independence of the judiciary are relevant and vital, and therefore it may be useful to discuss the applicability of her statements, in the context of the current impeachment issue and process.

In her speech, Dr Bandaranayake said, “Judicial independence could be given different definitions and could take a variety of forms, but the underlying theme would be that the judges would act independently. Such independence is assessed for a variety of reasons, which includes public confidence, which is essential for the effectiveness of the Court system.”

In this context, it is clearly seen that, after the 14 serious charges against Dr Bandaranayake were made public and after the Parliament Select Committee had found her guilty as charged on three counts, public confidence in Dr Bandaranayake has reduced to zero.

The wags would probably say that her public confidence level is at same value that her many bank accounts reflected on March 31 of each year. It is also no secret that, in recent times, thousands of people have gone on protest marches, climbed trees, picketed in front of the Courts and distributed leaflets and posters proclaiming that they have lost confidence in the Chief Justice.

Upon silent reflection of these facts, Dr Bandaranayake will probably realise that by her actions, she has probably been instrumental in irretrievably eroding public confidence in the judiciary. Dr Bandaranayake in her speech rightly states that “courts are regarded as temples of justice”. It then follows that, if those who worship at the temple have lost confidence and faith in the Chief Priest of the temple, it is very unlikely that the temple could be considered an effective refuge for people who are seeking succour at that temple.

Worse still, if the worshippers believe that the Chief Priest of the temple is corrupt and is trying to get favours of the deities for herself, her spouse, and her siblings, the worshippers will surely not want to have anything to do with that temple.

Dr Bandaranayake further asserts that, “No person’s rights will be infringed without a fair trial before an impartial and independent tribunal operating according to fair procedure”. In that context, it is a established principle that a person who has an interest in a particular matter, cannot be impartial or independent.

However, in both, the Golden Key and the Pradeep Kariyawasam cases, Dr Bandaranayake has been an interested party. In fact, immediately after the Impeachment motion was filed, Dr Bandaranayake withdrew from the Golden Key cases, thereby confirming her obvious conflict of interest in those cases. Here again, upon sober consideration, Dr Bandaranayake would have realised that, in the interest of justice and fairness, (which Dr Bandaranayake describes as the “cornerstone of our Constitution”), she should have never arrogated to herself, the Golden Key cases.

It is also likely that she will now appreciate that she should have never attempted to interfere in her spouse’s case by communicating with the Magistrate who was sitting in judgement in her spouse’s bribery case.

Such a course of action reeks of conflict of interest, and even an uneducated person would have known that with the CJ’s interventions, a highly partial trial would have been accorded to her spouse, and that there was almost no possibility of the Magistrate being able to take an independent and impartial position in the case.

Dr Bandaranayake goes on to say, “In order to uphold independence, a judge must be willing and able to make many sacrifices. A judge must be willing and able to sacrifice what others are capable of enjoying in order to uphold independence”. Here again, she has made an extremely timely and wise statement. In hindsight, she would now agree that, had she applied this advice to herself, she would not have greedily enjoyed and availed herself of the lavish discount of Rs.1.6 million that was granted to her when she purchased an apartment at the Trillium Residencies.

By accepting this favour while hearing the case, it is clear that she has comprised herself fully and that in her own wise words, she had not been able to uphold the independence of the judiciary as was required. Therefore, it is highly unfortunate that Dr. Bandaranayake has not practised what she is now preaching, and as a result, she stands discredited and is no longer able to command the required degree of confidence in her ability to serve as the Chief Justice.

In the face of the charges that have been levelled against her and the misconduct that has been proved, it is pathetic to see her still clutching on to office, like a drowning man clutching a straw. Her selfish behaviour is hurting the country, both socially and economically.

If she had any respect for her motherland, she would have, by now, resigned without causing further pain to the country. However, her current reckless conduct, which is obviously driven by political considerations, confirms her unpatriotic attitude, and on that basis, when she is unceremonially relegated to the dust-bin of history, she will only have herself to blame.

2 Responses to “CJ must follow her own advice”

  1. douglas Says:

    The opening paragraph: quote : “Although widely expected………by forcusing on alleged procedural imperfection”.

    This is a good lesson to learn and practice by all our politicians from the Highest to the Lower ranks.

  2. callistus Says:

    She is only a puppet controlled by the NGOs and international community, with or without her knowledge. Like Sarath Fonseka she will be in the bin shortly. If she had resigned earlier, she would have been given some respect at least by some people. But she lost that opportunity. She still doesn’t deny the charges against her. Some people are intelligent and wise, others intelligent but not wise like Mrs Bandaranayake, and some others are neither intelligent nor wise, like Fonseka.

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