BASL condemns move to summon SC judges
… asks Parliament to respect independence of judiciary
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has, in a strongly worded statement, condemned a move by the Parliament to summon Supreme Court judges before the Committee on Ethics and Privileges over the issuance of an interim order to Secretary to the Treasury Mahinda Siriwardena and Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, preventing them from depriving Election Commission (EC) of funds allocated through the 2023 Budget.
The interim order was given by the three-member Supreme Court bench comprising judges Preethi Padman Surasena, Janak de Silva and Priyantha Fernando, allowing the consideration of a fundamental rights petition filed by Samagi Jana Balawegaya General Secretary MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara.
In the statement jointly issued by the BASL President Kaushalya Nawaratne and its Secretary Isuru Balapatabendi, the association has declared that there has been no violation of the powers and the privileges of Parliament, by this order.
Top Opposition spokesperson Prof. G. L. Peiris stressed that they strongly opposed the government move both in and outside parliament.
The following is the text of BASL statement: “The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) re- affirms its commitment to upholding the Rule of Law and safeguarding the Independence of the Judiciary, in light of the recent trend of pressure being exerted over the Judiciary that would potentially threaten and undermine these important principles.
The BASL is of the view that the Judiciary should be allowed to operate independently, free from external pressures, threats or any interference, for a vibrant democracy to exist. In an international view point the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, inter alia states:
1. The independence of the judiciary shall be guaranteed by the State and enshrined in the Constitution or the law of the country. It is the duty of all governmental and other institutions to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary.
2. The judiciary shall decide matters before them impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions, improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.
The BASL is aware that an order made by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has been referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges. The BASL has considered this matter and is strongly of the view that there has been no violation of the powers and the privileges of Parliament, by this order. Further, the Supreme Court being an independent institution should not be called upon to explain judicial orders to any other person or institution. Therefore, the BASL is of the view that it is the duty of all governmental and other institutions to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary, and any interference in the judicial process, sets a dangerous precedent, which must be strongly condemned
High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka meets with the Chair of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus in Parliament & Secretary-General of Parliament
Michael Appelton, High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka, accompanied by Andrew Traveller, Deputy High Commissioner, met with the Chair of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus in Parliament, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle MP, and Secretary-General of Parliament, Kushani Rohanadeera, recently.
During the meeting, the Ambassador emphasized that gender equality in politics is vital for the achievement of peaceful societies, the realization of full human potential, and sustainable development. He also stated that they have taken several initiatives to ensure equal women’s participation in the New Zealand Parliament.
Dr. Fernandopulle, MP, shared her concerns regarding the lack of gender sensitivity in Sri Lankan politics. She drew attention to the urgent need for a more inclusive political framework that ensures equal representation and participation for women.
The Secretary-General of Parliament affirmed that Parliament has taken actions to increase youth and women’s representation in committees and is currently working on improving disability access to Parliament.
Climate Change University to be launched next year
At the briefing on the progress of Climate Change and Green Growth held on Wednesday (31) at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and officials of the Climate Change Secretariat led by President’s Adviser on Climate Change Ruwan Wijewardene it was revealed that the Climate Change University would be launched next year and that the University Grants Commission had identified approximately 130 scientists who have gained international recognition for their research on climate change who, together with their international affiliations would be brought together as part of the initiative.
President Wickremesinghe expressing his perspective on the International Climate Change University, emphasized that it should be a post-graduate institution solely focused on research which does not offer undergraduate courses. Any country or organization that contributes to the university becomes a stakeholder and gains membership on the Board of Governance. The Korean Exim Bank has expressed interest in partnering with the university and negotiations between Sri Lanka and the Korea Exim Bank, led by the External Resource Department have concluded successfully. The President said that prestigious institutions like Harvard and MIT have also expressed interest in collaboration.
The discussions also revolved around inviting a group of international experts from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, tentatively scheduled for July/August to engage in policy conversations, addressing global issues, and exploring potential research projects that could be derived from these policy dialogues.
President Wickremesinghe emphasized that all future research in the field of climate change should be conducted at this institution.
IUSF threatens showdown
By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon
The university system is facing a grave crisis as around 40 percent of the lecturers have left the state education system, says the Convenor of the Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Madushan Chandrajith.
Chandrajith said the ‘exodus’ of top academics would lead to a massive drop in the quality of education as most of those who have left are among the cream of scholars.Chandrajith said that about one-third of students in state universities, eligible for hostel facilities, did not have access to them.He warned that the IUSF will organise massive protests, in the coming weeks, if steps are not taken to resolve the many issues in the University system.
While the Mahapola scholarship has not been increased, the prices of food in the hostels have risen dramatically, he said.
“About 2,500 students in Kelaniya, 4,000 students in Rajarata and 6,000 in Peradeniya do not have hostel accommodation,” he went on to say..According to Chandrajith, a student needs about Rs 20,000 a month to meet basic needs.
“One requires about Rs 12,000 a month for food alone,” he said.
A senior official at the Ministry of Public Administration told The Island that some lecturers and doctors had a 100 percent attendance record but they avoided work.
“They are responsible for the attendance registry and they cook up the books to have full attendance. They take a lot of OT payments by doing this. We are looking at introducing a digital mechanism to mark attendance at universities and hospitals,” he said.
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