A post-Sarath Nanda Silva scenario in the making?

(July 98m 2009) Two fundamental rights petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court seeking changes to the verdicts delivered under the purview of the former Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva

One petition was filed by B. K. Abhaya Padmasiri Balasuriya of Bahirawakanda, Kandy citing that the former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, when he was the Chairman of the Court of Appeal, made a district court judge of Kandy to lodge a false complaint against him and he was remanded for 294 days as a result of it.

The petitioner says that the former Chief Justice chased him away without allowing him to make clarifications last year when he attempted to proceed with a fundamental rights petition. He also said that he had to wait until the former Chief Justice retired to resubmit the petition.

In the second incident, the Asia Pacific Golf Course Limited, Access International and the owners Water's Edge residencies have appealed through a motion for reconsidering the verdict in relation to the property citing that they incurred losses due to the Supreme Court verdict to revert them to the state. 

In Sri Lanka’s Judiciary: Politicised Courts, Compromised Rights, the latest policy report from the International Crisis Group, warned that the Sri Lankan judiciary is not working in a fair and impartial way that secures justice and human rights for everyone regardless of ethnicity. This risks undermining the government’s recent military victory over the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). A durable national reconciliation process is only possible if human and constitutional rights are fully restored.

“The judiciary has not acted as a check on presidential and legislative power but has instead contributed to the political alienation of Tamils”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “Under the former chief justice, the Supreme Court’s rulings strengthened political hardliners among Sinhala nationalist parties”.
Rather than assuaging conflict, the courts have corroded the rule of law and worsened ethnic tensions. They are neither constraining militarization of Sri Lankan society nor protecting minority rights. Instead, a politicized bench has entrenched favored allies, punished foes and blocked compromises with the Tamil minority. The judiciary’s intermittent interventions on important political questions have limited settlement options for the ethnic conflict.

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