Of that judicial coup
Posted on July 9th, 2016

The Editorial Courtesy The Island

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in Parliament on Thursday, while expressing his views on the ratification of the first Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, alleged that there had been a judicial coup against Parliament. His consternation is understandable. As much as it is wrong for the legislature to meddle with the affairs of the judiciary the latter should not make inroads into the preserve of the former if unfortunate conflicts between the two institutions are to be avoided.

Even those who do not see eye to eye with the PM on other issues must have agreed with him on this score. Legislative powers of the people in whom sovereignty lies are exercised by Parliament, however, rotten that institution may be.

The near absence of the separation of powers has been the bane of Sri Lankan politics. The three branches of government either collude or clash with one another constantly. They are like the three highly unstable bio-elements referred to in Ayurveda, to wit, Va (air and space), Pith (fire and water) and Sem (water and earth). Any imbalance therein causes serious illnesses. Most of the chronic ills of the Sri Lankan polity can be attributed to the conflicts, which sometimes find expression in open clashes, among the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

Since the current Constitution came into being in 1978, the executive president, elected directly by the people, has sought to railroad the legislature and the judiciary into submission. The less said about the former Presidents who did everything in their power to bend parliament and courts to their will, the better!

One of the first few things President Maithripala Sirisena did, upon being inaugurated last year, was to sack the then Chief Justice (CJ) arbitrarily on the advice of the unofficial bar and some other pundits and reinstate the latter’s immediate predecessor who had been ‘impeached’. That issue could have been sorted out in a proper manner; an opinion should have been sought from the Supreme Court with the CJ recused and the wrongful impeachment could have been reversed by Parliament itself. Instead, the President chose to act dictatorially.

There have been many instances where the judiciary under different Chief Justices used the gavel to knock some sense into the executive and the legislature. The Supreme Court (SC) judgment in favour of Vivienne Gunawardena in a fundamental rights violation case against the police under the JRJ regime is a case in point.

CJ Sarath N. Silva took judicial activism to an extreme so much so that the judiciary and the executive found themselves on a collision course under the Rajapaksa government. An attempt by the SC on CJ Silva’s watch to interfere with the affairs of Parliament to scuttle a move to impeach him led to a path-breaking ruling by the late Speaker Anura Bandaranaike, as PM Wickremesinghe said in the House on Thursday. Bandaranaike basically asked the Supreme Court to mind its own business!

The present government, too, has failed to live up to people’s expectations; it has not fulfilled its election pledges to restore the rule of law and judicial independence. The police continue to be putty in the hands of the powers that be with special investigation units acting as the Gestapo and some courts remain open till midnight, on Saturdays and even on Poya Days to remand Opposition politicians and/or bail out government members.

Good governance consists in, inter alia, the separation of powers. So long as the three branches of government either collude or clash democracy won’t recover.

The Joint Opposition mockingly asked the PM on Thursday why it had taken as long as two decades for him to awaken to the judicial coup against Parliament he spoke of. However, better late than never!

Lessons the past offers must be learnt and remedial action taken if democracy is to be preserved.

One Response to “Of that judicial coup”

  1. plumblossom Says:

    Not only this, the treacherous Ranil, Sirisena, CBK, Mangala, idiotic UNPers, those INGOs working for thousands of dollars and even the JVP are trying to dismember the country via constitutional changes. We patriotic Sri Lankans should demand a strong central government, no more powers to provincial councils, no merger between provinces, ideally abolition of the 13th amendment to the constitution and absolute safeguarding of the sovereignty of the country.

    The army did not commit any war crimes. it is the LTTE who committed war crimes. However, it is high time that Sri Lanka rejected the US imperialists UNHRC resolution and state at the UNHRC to leave Sri Lanka alone to get on with reconciliation as Sri Lanka sees fit.

    Actually Sri Lanka today being accused of committing war crimes by the US, UK, EU, Norway, Sweden, Canada, India etc. is very similar to the way Saddam Hussein and Iraq was accused of possessing non existent WMDs. Although Iraq did everything possible to show the US, UK, EU, Norway, Sweden, Canada etc. that it did not possess WMD it was bombed anyway, regime change brought about since Iraq has massive amounts of oil which the US, UK, EU, Norway, Sweden, Canada companies wanted to extract at cheap rates by bringing on a puppet regime. A similar scenario is unfolding in Sri Lanka since Sri Lanka is located at a strategic location, the US wanting to establish a naval/air base at Trincomalee, the US wanting to establish further US army, navy, air force bases in the island, mineral resources, marine resources, control of the Indian ocean sea routes etc. For this, the separatist, terroristic Tamils who are subservient to the US are who the US is favouring to help them with this task. This is why the US favours eelam. All patriotic Sri Lankans should therefore tell the government to withdraw from carrying out the US resolution and to tell the US to leave Sri Lanka alone.

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