PSC members, not Judges but investigators
Posted on January 3rd, 2013

Minister Wimal Weerawansa-Courtesy The Daily News 

Views expressed by National Freedom Front Leader and Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on the Impeachment motion against the Chief Justice

As members of the PSC on the Impeachment motion against the CJ we had certain limitations on our discussions. But today as there are no such limitations we can discuss it at length. The report of the PSC process is included in the Parliamentary Publication No 187 volume one and two. Anyone can now buy these two volumes from the Government Publications Department.

Anyone reading them with an open mind will clearly see that they and certain members who appeared on their behalf built up certain arguments from the beginning. The arguments were that there was no proper process and there was not sufficient time. They continued saying there was no proper process. Opposition members and Opposition PSC members said it. Romesh de Silva PC who appeared for the CJ said it. As the CJ attended the PSC we changed our earlier models. I think we should consider whether it was right or wrong.

When former CJ Neville Samarakoon came to Parliament to face the impeachment against him he was dropped at the Jayanthipura junction. This was not done to the present CJ. She was allowed to enter Parliament from the VIP entrance she was not frisked. Not only her but her team of lawyers were also allowed in. On the earlier occasion only Neville Samarakoon and his lawyer Nadesan participated. When Romesh de Silva came and said he wanted a team of lawyers to assist him including those from Neelakandan and Neelakandan Associates they were also allowed. Then on the first day itself the CJ refused to take the oath. She said the oath had to be taken when giving evidence. We said that may be the tradition in the Judiciary but this is Parliament. We told her to understand the difference. We said we are not Judges but investigators. We don’t order any sentence but we only examine whether the allegations are true or wrong and asked her to assist us. She continuously objected.

Impeachment motion

Anyone who reads the report can see that she came with a fighting mentality. Former CJ Neville Samarakoon of course came with Lawyer Nadesan. He went and sat on the back row and began to read a book. Lawyer Nadesan answered questions on his behalf but he never challenged the authority of Parliament or the PSC.

Minister Wimal Weerawansa

Standing orders had not been formulated by then. He clearly and independently answered the questions without making it to a clash or a complex situation.

That was his greatness. Comparatively speaking we have treated the present CJ with much fairness. We categorically stated that we cannot transform this into a land case but we were prepared to give time. We did not take the stand that we should complete hearings by the time the Budget debate ended. The report will prove it. We agreed with time four opposition members to take more time if necessary by tabling an extension motion in Parliament on December 7 or 8.

No one can say that we had a premeditated intention not to grant more time. Why does the constitution say that a PSC inquiry had to be completed within one month and if more time was needed an extension should be approved by a motion passed in Parliament. That is because when there are allegations against an important post like the CJ it would be wrong to have a protracted process. Then there will be an environment of mistrust and insecurity.

Therefore it is wrong to say that this was concluded in haste within 24 hours. When government and opposition members of the PSC started arguing in an unbecoming manner we temporarily got the CJ and her lawyers to go out of the PSC room and met as a team and took certain decisions. The report clearly states what happened before they left. It states “Thereafter the PSC met again and the Hon. Chairman informed CJ’s Senior Attorney that investigations relating to allegations 1 and 2 in the Impeachment motion will begin at 1.30 pm on the relevant day”. Then after coming for nearly 20 days like this they asked for another one weeks time. Again they asked for two weeks and several days were given. Thereafter the investigations was due to begin on allegations 1 and 2. This is where the clash occurred. They were never prepared to face the charges. What are they saying today. They are not saying whether the allegations are true or correct. They say they asked for time. Then they said the process adopted was improper. They are taking this same thing to courts. This is not the place where this story begins. We are all aware that the Western nations are not pleased with the President or the government of this country. Now there is a government and an administration which has earned the hatred of Western nations. All government and opposition members accept this. We earned their hatred because we defeated separatist terrorism.

People’s ballot

It was due to this hatred that proposals were adopted against Sri Lanka at the UNCHR in Geneva and they are going to adopt another proposal against war heroes who defeated terrorism next March. Therefore as a country we are under international pressure. Even certain powers in the region have contributed towards this international process to a certain extent. These forces are thinking of changing the government in power in the long run.

This pressure was exerted on the country because it overcame terrorism. They know that it is difficult to effect a change of government through the people’s ballot. Today the country has a leader who could not be defeated by the combined effort of TNA, JVP, SLMC and the UNP under the leadership of Sarath Fonseka. If I may cite an example the Director of the International Crisis Group Allan Keenan says that “cases would not be filed against the leaders of Sri Lanka within the next year or two. So they should go for a long-term process by working with the relatives and families who have died in the war. If they do it they would be successful; what these people should do was to continuously provide them with evidence. He says reports supplied by the International Crisis Groups and Channel 4 Films would be very vital. If evidence was gathered in this way and steps are taken to educate the international community the Rajapaksa regime could be sent to the guillotine.

The Rajapaksa regime would not be able to act in a dictatorial manner as before in the face of the political developments in Sri Lanka and the changes occurring in the outside world. They would have to face war crimes charges. As he sees it the people’s power the Rajapaksa government had been eroded. Even the Sinhalese are getting frustrated with the government. To overcome this they will try to act in a dictatorial manner. But such power is likely to break up and totally collapse at a given moment.

That will take another decade or two to happen, our task should be to make this happen as soon as possible.” I quoted from a speech made by Allan Keenan during the launching of a book by a BBC female reporter. These were highlighted in an article written by Gunadasa Amarasekara. The statement made by Allan Keenan clearly showed that they want to overthrow this government. They want to do this to seek vengeance for defeating terrorism.

Devolution of power

All are saying that this is a clash among the President, Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary. How and where did this clash begin. Before formulating the Budget Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunge spoke to the phone and invited chairperson of the JSC to come as the other members of the commission for meeting with the President to discuss the needs of the Judges. Former CJ Sarath Silva has told a newspaper that he too went alone for such discussions. But what did her lordship do in this instance. She asked the Secretary to the President to make the invitation in writing.

He then wrote a letter with good intentions. What did she do then. She got down the letter and published it in the newspapers through the JSC Secretary to show that such summons is interference with the Judiciary. Now one can see from where the clash has occurred.

When you look at CJs past history the thesis she wrote for her post graduate university degree also delved on devolution of power. Her articles on the devolution of power have been published in “ƒ”¹…”Ground View’ the website of Pakyasothi Saravanamuttu.

They had also been published in the Tamil Net website. Will Tamil Net ever publish an article by me or for that matter by Prof Sunil Ariyaratne or Gunadasa Amarasekara?. Not at all. As far as devolution of power is concerned she is someone special for them, she was earlier functioning as a lecturer in the Colombo University. When she was appointed CJ some people opposed it and went to courts, saying she had no experience.

Media persons

Those in the courts sector who are now supporting her were the very same people who opposed her then. Minister Rajitha Senaratne who was a UNP Parliamentarian then also said in Parliament that it was improper to appoint her.

Some other UNP MPs too said the same story. Then one of the Judges sitting in that case clearly stated in the order that she should not sit in Judgement in cases relating to devolution of power. Although that view was in no way a bar to her appointment after the activation of the appointment she should not sit in Judgement as regards such cases, the Judge had further observed.

Now look at the process which has followed. Now see the persons who had gone to courts the most number of times seeking demands that would threaten and have an adverse impact on the government after she became CJ. Who has taken up most such cases. It is people like Pakyasothi Saravanamuttu who had gone to courts in most such cases. I don’t know with what intentions they had done so; I have obtained certain documents distributed among media persons who attended a workshop funded by the US office. All media persons who attended had received 1,000 US dollars each. These documents had said that a powerful government is in power today and a powerful government is not good for democracy and such they should be broken or weakened. Then laptops had been given to media persons to attack the government by using them.

If the CJ is an honourable person there is no need for anyone to bring an impeachment motion against her. Now all are talking whether it is correct to bring in an impeachment motion and whether it was done properly. That is not the problem or question. We should go to its roots. The CJ is the chairman of the JSC. It is the JSC chaired by the CJ which appointed and transferred Judges of all courts except the highest courts. Those Judges too have no rights. They have no place to go to challenge for their rights.

There are Judges who had undergone suffering due to decisions taken by the CJ. They are helpless. Even the JSC had not granted any relief. As for the CJ she was brought to Parliament and problems were discussed for about a month. Her grievances were given a hearing. But the JSC does not take decisions in that manner. Decisions are taken in a rush. Work is started after interdiction.

A petition was field in courts against her husband. Can she then remain as CJ or the chairman of the JSC?

It is there where the question lies. Questions whether it was right to bring in an impeachment motion, whether it was done properly or whether proper words were used arose much later. There is a Commissioner of Elections in this country. If you publish a picture of the Commissioner of Elections exercising his vote in your news tomorrow he has to resign his post. Then he will say he refrained from exercising his vote. But if he refrained why should he go there. He should not have gone there at all. That itself is a disqualification.

If he does not resign is it correct to ask what should be done or whether what was done was correct.

High posts

Even if a report is published that the wife of the Elections Commissioner worked for a certain political party the Commissioner had to either resign or be removed from office. That means the Elections Commissioner should act clean in matters pertaining to elections. Big posts carry big punishments. Big responsibilities entail big punishments.

Is it proper for Judges named by the CJ to hear a case filed against her husband. I have heard of Judges who had acted in an exemplary manner. There is an instance where a Judge resigned from the panel hearing a case regarding a diabetes drug. The reason was he himself was a diabetic and thought he would be prejudiced. If a Judge who is a diabetic thinks that it is improper for him to sit in a bench hearing a case against a drug from dealing with a diabetic drug does she have the moral right to sit in the highest chair of a court hearing a case against her husband? Don’t we expect that moral duty from people holding high posts?

To be continued

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