Posted on September 27th, 2016

Editorial Courtesy The Island


Those who read yesterday’s lead story in this newspaper about a very serious complaint that the CID had tapped a senior judge’s telephones and hacked his personal email may have wondered whether they were rereading an extract from George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty Four, where Big Brother controls everyone and everything.

President’s Counsel Hemantha Warnakulasuriya deserves praise for having drawn the attention of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) to the Gestapo style operations allegedly carried out by the CID, which is apparently doing full-time political work these days. He has called upon the BASL to take up the cudgels for the judges who are under surveillance and suffering affronts to their dignity at the hands of some pro-government propagandists.

When the Trial-at-Bar judgment in the so-called White Flag case was delivered in 2011 some politicos in the garb of lawyers who could not stomach it went berserk, heaping as they did abuse on the two judges who found former Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka guilty. They even smashed up furniture in the court house and abused a beleaguered lady judge in raw filth. The police had to escort her to safety.

The BASL did not care to act against the rowdies within its ranks while urging the then government to respect the independence and dignity of the judiciary. We, in this space, called upon the BASL to have the incident thoroughly probed and the culprits punished, but its bigwigs let the thugs in black coats get away with that serious offence. If an ordinary person ever so much as lets out an ostentatious yawn in a court he is thrown behind bars immediately! Are lawyers above the law?

True, there are some judges of easy virtue, so to speak, who have sold their souls to the powers that be. They keep their courts open on Poya Days and till midnight to release government politicians on bail and remand Opposition activists. But, vilification is certainly not the way to deal with any member of the judiciary. Every institution has its share of such bad eggs tarnishing its image.

A drug baron had upright High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya gunned down by contract killers in 2004. Some politicians and their henchmen are contracting propaganda hit men masquerading as media personnel to carry out character assassination operations against judges who refuse to toe their line.

The BASL was one of the professional outfits instrumental in paving the way for the formation of the present administration last year. It cannot absolve itself of the responsibility for protecting judges from its friends in power, who promised to ensure the judicial independence.

Safeguarding judges’ right to hear cases, deliver judgments and dissent without fear or favour is a prerequisite for protecting judicial independence. Nobody must be allowed to stage protests anywhere near courts and the practice of dashing coconuts, on the pretext of invoking divine intervention, in a bid to influence judges must be banned forthwith. Those who are responsible for intimidating judges must be severely dealt with.

When the self-appointed campaigners for good governance, after capturing power last year, set up what they called the National Executive Council to restore, inter alia, judicial independence, we called some of its members’ eligibility into question. We pointed out that one of them had threatened a judge and his supporters had stoned a court. Rishad Bathiudeen is his name. Now, the ‘yahapalana’ guys have laid bare their true faces!

The present government has earned notoriety for its shameless efforts to sweep mega rackets such as the Central Bank bond scams, a multi-billion-rupee coal tender, fraudulent release of more than one hundred SUVs from the custody of the Customs, under the carpet. It is shielding lawbreakers unashamedly. Therefore, it is not likely to probe the intimidation of judges and vilification campaign against them unless pressure is ratcheted up. Will the BASL rise to the occasion by way of making atonement for its past sins? Appointment of committees which will drag on until the issues concerned die down or are eclipsed by others won’t do.

In 2012, the BASL staged a countrywide strike demanding the arrest of Minister Bathiudeen and others over the attack on the Mannar court complex. Will it resort to similar action in respect of vilification campaigns against judges, the tapping of their phones and the hacking of their emails as well?

3 Responses to “Gestapo!”

  1. Nimal Says:

    I think the enforcement people should have a right tap a telephone of any one whom they suspect to be criminal or a treat to our security.It has been proved that we have bent cops as well as judges.

  2. S.Gonsal Says:

    Worth watching this

    Here you see behaviour of a supreme court judge in Maldives. In Sri Lanka we saw a rapist SC judge (they say jumped to death). Whether politics or not these guys should be monitored 24/7.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    The LTTE govt. in power is worse than (S)Hitler’s GESTAPO.

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