Posted on September 16th, 2016

Courtesy Ceylon Today

The Judiciary and the Police have of late once again come under the public scrutiny and comment. This is not merely because Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe himself fuelled it by claiming the Judiciary was on a collision course with the government but because keen observers who are not weak in the head never for a moment were convinced that the advent of Yahapalanaya would be the panacea for their ills.

Corruption runs deep and wide across every strata of society, from Government, or the all-embracing machinery of State, through the corporate sector, clergy of every religion, political parties, trade unions et al.
To journalists who have been around for over half a century, the transition, from what this country was in the early and mid-1950s in a socio-political context, to the miasmic cesspool of immorality and crime it is today, has been saturated with a pain-riddled poignancy.
This debate on ‘whither Sri Lanka’ that this paper also editorially addressed weeks ago, came to the fore once again in the public debates on aspects of the Thajudeen murder case, the Bharatha Lakshman murder case and just this week about the appointment by the National Police Commission of a committee to probe the disappearance of a 20-year-old while in custody of the Hambantota Police, bringing alive the old fear-psychosis relating to sudden disappearance of persons whose bullet-riddled bodies turned up after a few days in mangroves and garbage dumps.
And that’s about just where this country is right now…in the garbage dump that Lankan politicians have destined it to be. Should you think that a harsh indictment, it’s a better one, than those coming out of our Courts of Law?
On the one hand we still have the hangers-on of the previous regime still in uniform in the various services and we continue to get what all right thinking men in this country agree are less than palatable judicial decisions.
That the IGP immediately transferred five policemen in the immediate aftermath of the disappearance from the Hambantota Police Station was no different from what happened under the previous regime when some noise erupted during that time about disappearances or Police brutality.
If the Court decision in the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayaka case, to put it mildly, raised eyebrows around the globe, not just in Sri Lanka, so also did the divided verdict in a just concluded murder case.
Witnesses lacked credibility
That one Judge of a bench deemed the witnesses presented by the prosecution lacked credibility, that in itself would either raise questions of credibility as to whether justice was in fact meted out in the case since one Judge on that bench had as much right to his findings as the others had to theirs.
A man, at the end of the day, guilty or not, was sentenced to death within a judicial system that leaves much to be desired.
The public debate here is who was right? The hearing of the appeal will perhaps tell us something about the deeper truths about this case.
Meanwhile, society at large is held to intellectual ransom wondering why it is being left to the mercies of even judges who can’t agree on what is right and what is wrong about the evidence placed before them.
This is a crisis of sorts in the Judiciary since men who stand accused of murder in Court hereafter and stand before a Bench will know that their lives are in the hands of men who can’t even agree on the validity or invalidity of evidence placed before them.
No need to state that, if at all there appeared to be some advances made in the area of judicial independence, this case raises questions about the validity of verdicts and also about the invalidity of opinions. In short, huge question marks hang over the Judiciary even to this day.
What’s peculiar is that all, of this, has suddenly dove-tailed and emerged exactly on the very eve of President Sirisena addressing the UN General Assembly in New York and will be leveraged to their benefit by mala fide forces in the Tamil polity including the diaspora.
The IGP moves quickly in the Hambantota incident. But the question that goes abegging is, how can the ordinary man-on-the-street ever repose an iota of trust in the Police whose senior-most officials are still in remand on charges of complicity in heinous crimes which were swept under the carpet by the previous regime? The less said about the Army the better.
And – if the majority Sinhalese have such disquieting thoughts in their minds, one will not…at least now…hold it against Northern CM Wigneswaran retracting his backhanded compliment to the Police saying he preferred them to the Army. Take your pick CM! What’s more is that we remember you were an SC Judge too once and your thought on today’s Judiciary would be good reading of a Sunday! NO?
What’s happening is that we’re suffering an acute deficit in morality at every strata of national life.
Could this be a major contributing factor for the common man taking the law into their own hands instead of bothering with the Police and the Judiciary?
It would be good to have some feedback from the Office of Missing Persons too on this matter. Or does this disappearance not matter to it?
Let us leave you with a few thoughts on corruption:
A common belief is that corruption is a judge taking bribes. The definition exceeds this theory. Corruption describes any organized, interdependent system in which part of the system is either not performing duties it was originally intended to, or performing them in an improper way, to the detriment of the system’s original purpose. Corrupt judicial systems not only violate the basic right to equality before the law but deny procedural rights guaranteed by a Constitution. Corruption, judicial, Police and governmental ‘accommodation’ facilitate criminal enterprise such as wanton murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, and sundry forms of fraud besides other crimes.
The end-point of political corruption is a kleptocracy, literally ‘rule by thieves’.

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