Tuesday, January 15, 2013

“Black Friday” for Lawyers – “Good Friday” for C.J.?

“Friday Forum” appeals to Pilate

        Unbelievable? May be in the civilised world but certainly not in the
Wonder of Asia! The primary duty of a law-enforcement officer is to
act forthwith to prevent a breach of the peace, almost at any cost. It
is said that “Good habits die hard”.  To prevent, what in his esteemed
opinion was an imminent breach of the peace, the Speaker, a
distinguished Police Officer of yester year, relying on the
considerable legal knowledge he had acquired over the years boldly
delivered ground – breaking rulings. He ruled inter alia that both the
Supreme Court and Court of Appeal had erred by failing to recognise
what he seemed to believe was, the immutable principle of
“Parliamentary Supremacy” and had overstepped their authority by
daring to restrict the powers of the Legislature of which he was the
Head. He seemed either to have lost sight of the fact that all such
emergency measures were subject to the scrutiny and review by the
Judiciary or to have deemed it inapplicable to his exalted position as
Head of the Legislature. Predictably, he was vociferously egged on by
MPs on both sides of the House to actively pursue his valiant efforts
to restore to Parliament a supremacy which had admittedly been
explicitly extinguished and “buried” for 34 years after the current
Constitution, was adopted in 1978. The culmination of his rash rulings
was his purported validation of the PSC's, finding of guilt of the CJ
(which finding had been explicitly declared null and void by the Court
of Appeal) and the overwhelming approval of such resurrected findings
by the very accusers, in Parliament on “Black Friday”. On the unholy
Saturday that followed the Editor of a local Newspaper stated that “it
was more like a Good Friday for Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake”.

        The Deputy Speaker stated that the “address” to remove the Chief
Justice had already been presented to the President. The “Barbarians”
at the gates of the Citadel of Justice were straining at the leash to
complete the foul deed entrusted to them, (by ‘whom’ is anyone’s
guess). The “rugged cross,” a plentiful supply of  “nails” the
inscription, and even the “crown of thorns” were all ready, and
waiting to be used by those who perhaps believed that they are on a
lawful and patriotic mission of crucifying the CJ and thereby
resurrecting the long dead and buried “Supremacy of Parliament”.

        The recipient of the potentially disastrous address of Parliament, is
a Senior Lawyer who consistently professes to respect the Independence
of the Judiciary. His legal acumen, admittedly streets ahead of that
of his elder sibling, the Speaker, will certainly reveal to him  that
the Supreme Court interpretation re the validity of Standing Order 78A
and the Court of Appeal  order quashing the PSC findings of guilt,
preclude him from acting on a vote of mere Parliamentarians with
little or no knowledge of the law, in respect of a purported finding
of guilt, already authoritatively quashed by the Court of Appeal.

        Through the good graces of his spouse, this President has been
privileged to have two audiences with His Holiness the Pope. He must
therefore surely know some, if not all of the gruesome details of what
took place on the one and only “Good Friday”. He is presently in the
position that “Pilate” was in, on that fateful Maundy Thursday.

        The “Braveheart” Chief Justice has vowed to fight this injustice –
even at the cost of her own life! There is no reason to believe that
she would now waver.

        Just as Pilate did then, the President can now choose to “wash his
hands off” and give the green light to the barbarians, crouching at
the gates, to crucify her on “Calvary’s Hill” – sorry, I mean on
“Hultsdorp Hill”, - and appoint the Judas who betrayed her, or one of
the several fawning Barabbuses available for him to choose from, to
take her place.

        Alternatively, he can abide by the rulings of the Courts, which any
lawyer knows are valid and binding, and direct the Legislature to
comply with the said rulings, and afford the CJ a fair trial – which,
after all, is all that she has asked for.

        Astute Politician that he is, the President surely knows that the
appeal by the Friday Forum accurately reflects the current view of the
Sovereign people, except perhaps the paid hoodlums who have certainly
made their presence felt by blatant acts of thuggery with the
blessings of the law-enforcement agencies, and also the beneficiaries
of lucrative patronage appointments both within and outside

        How will he respond to this appeal? The future of our resplendent
motherland will be determined by this one single decision of his!

        We all wait with bated breath to see which particular dictate of his
“conscience” he will finally follow. “Retribution” or “vengeance” –
call it what you will – which follows with the certainty that night
follows day, will be no solace to a bruised and bleeding nation. On
this Holy Sunday most Sri Lankans will pray to their own God, if any,
that he may be endowed with the wisdom to eschew bravado and exhibit
exemplary statesmanship to save the nation from certain chaos and
isolation from the civilised world.

Elmore Perera, Attorney-at-Law
Founder CIMOGG, Past President OPA
13th January, 2013

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