HC commissioner to hear PTA cases: Govt. won’t budge
Posted on November 30th, 2015

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy Island

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC, yesterday rejected calls for cancelling the appointment of a retired High Court judge as High Court Commissioner to expedite hearing of cases pertaining to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) as well as Emergency Regulations.

Minister Rajapakshe was responding to the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) call to cancel the controversial decision. Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, too, on behalf of the joint opposition has urged the government to reverse the decision. The government recently named recently retired Iranganie Perera as the High Court Commissioner.


BASL President Geoffrey Alagaratnam, PC, in a special statement issued on Saturday, urged the government to reverse the process immediately and take steps to fill existing vacancies in the High Court cadre to ensure what he called efficient administration of justice.

Minister Rajapakshe stressed that the appointment of High Court Commissioners was a long standing practice adopted by successive administrations including the previous UPFA government. In fact, a retired Tamil High Court judge currently functioned as High Court Commissioner in Jaffna, the minister said, adding that a Sinhala District Court judge functioned as High Court Commissioner in Mannar. Unfortunately, a section of the opposition was making a desperate attempt to mislead the public as regards steps taken by the government to address grievances of those held under the PTA. The minister alleged some political opportunists had been propagating a lie that terrorists were freed in accordance with pre-presidential poll agreement between the UNP and the TNA.

Minister Rajapakshe said that the war winning government had released about 12,000 LTTE cadres in batches and handed over substantial part of private land held by the military since the conclusion of the war. “But when the present government continued that process we are being called traitors.” The minister commended the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the gradual release of LTTE cadres. Nearly 400 suspects held at Boossa, too, were released at that time, the minister said, alleging that Rajapaksa loyalists appeared to have conveniently forgotten post-war national reconciliation measures taken by them.

Responding to a question, Minister Rajapakshe said that there was no basis for accusations that vacancies exist in the cadre of High Court judges. “Parliament approved cadre comprised 75 High Court judges. Currently, we don’t have vacancies, hence the appointment of a recent retired High Court judge as High Court Commissioner.”

The President’s Counsel stressed that the government wouldn’t jeopardise national security and those complaining about the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government undermining national security were bent on arousing communal feelings. They exploited so-called heroes’ week activities, particularly in the Jaffna peninsula to spread lies, the minister said. The attorney-at-law said that after having considered representations made by interested parties, the government was taking urgent measures to clear the backlog of PTA cases, said the Justice Minister.

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) appointed by former President Rajapaksa also recommended speedy measures to hear cases of those who had been held under the PTA.

The minister said that the present government couldn’t be faulted for taking urgent measures to address contentious issues.

Asked whether the Justice Ministry had obtained President Maithripala Sirisena’s approval to name Iranganie Perera as the High Court Commissioner, Minister Rajapakshe said: “She was proposed by the Chief Justice and then endorsed by the President. Therefore, there is nothing to complain about


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