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Justice Minister urges Opposition not to malign judiciary without knowing the law



By Saman Indrajith

Justice Minister Ali Sabry on Saturday (27) urged Opposition MPs to be fair when they spoke about the judiciary as their speeches and innuendos could lead to an erosion of public faith in the judiciary.

Participating in the third reading debate on budget 2021, the minister said:

“I have noticed that some members in the Opposition make various remarks on some recent judgments. They really do not know the danger of what they are doing. Remember when you are in trouble and lose it all and nowhere to go, judiciary is the last resort. So, your ill-conceived comments will have a boomerang effect on you someday.

“It is incumbent upon all of us to protect the independence of the judiciary not for the sake of the government or the Opposition but for the sake of the people. Remember the judges would not give verdicts or rulings to make each and everyone happy. Not that all would be happy to hear some judgments. Those judgments are given after considering the evidence before them.

“They do not give rulings that make the government happy or the Opposition happy. Recently, decisions in several cases were given. The civil appellate court had given 67 judgments while the Court of Appeal gave 30 judgments. Some of those cases had been built on trumped up charges by several politicians of the former government. You created the FCID illegally. It was an illegal division, because the IGP is not empowered to create new divisions within the police. That power is with the minister as per the Police Ordinance. Then there was an anti-corruption unit.

“These outfits were created for political witch-hunts. They also set up new courts, not for the needs of the people but to advance their political agendas. So, the cases filed in such a manner will not stand judicial scrutiny. That was what exactly happened with regard to the case involving Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita. That was a case on fabricated evidence. That was why they had been acquitted. Even in the case of MP Pillayan the same happened. He was taken in five years back on a confession report. The court decided that confession was not true and legitimate. Once it was thrown out there was not a single bit of evidence against MP Pillayan. So, what is the purpose of keeping him further if there are no charges against him? Just because you do not like the decision you cannot blame the court. I do not mind anyone arguing or making speeches after reading at least the judgment in full.

“I table the judgments of Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita case and the MP Pillayan’s case so that the Opposition MPs could read them. I have been a lawyer for 25 years and for eight years I worked as a President’s Counsel, and, therefore, I know. That is why I am asking you to be careful when you make speeches about the judiciary. It is our duty as members of the legislature to protect the independence and the dignity of the judiciary.”

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Chinese contractor obtaining Port City sand for Colombo harbour projects unlawfully: FSP



Front-line Socialist Party (FSP) spokesperson Pubudu Jagoda yesterday (25) alleged that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government had allowed China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to obtain sand unlawfully from the Port City project for the construction of the East and Jaya Container in the Colombo Port.

Addressing the media at the FSP office in Colombo, Jagoda claimed that though in terms of the agreement the sand was to be brought from the Muthurajawela area, the contractors for both projects, CHEC, obtained sand from the Port City project.

Jagoda said that on a monthly basis approximately 4,000 cubes of sand, worth Rs 80 mn, were transported illegally with the government looking the other way.

The breakaway JVP faction said that the government owed an explanation regarding the suitability of sea sand for such large-scale construction and whether the Chinese met the required standards as regards concrete work.

Jagoda also asked whether taxes were paid for the massive loads of sea sand procured by the Chinese. The former JVPer alleged the way CHEC conducted its operations here indicated that it didn’t respect Sri Lanka’s law. (SF)

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CBSL denies 70% pay hike



… seeks opportunity to tell Parliament its side of story

 No salary increases for Central Bank workers until 2027

Trade unions, etc., agreed to pay hikes

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The Governing Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), embroiled in an ongoing controversy over recent salary hikes granted to its employees, has sought an opportunity to explain to Parliament what a senior official called the rationale behind the pay hike.

Authoritative CBSL sources told The Island that the request had been made through the Finance Ministry to Parliament seeking an early meeting with the relevant committees.

The Governing Board consists of Dr. P Nandalal Weerasinghe (Chairman), A N Fonseka, Dr. Ravi Ratnayake, Anushka S Wijesinha, Vish Govindasamy, Rajeev Amarasuriya and Manil Jayesinghe.

Responding to queries, sources denied accusations that the CBSL employees had been granted over 70 percent salary increase with effect from January this year. When The Island pointed out that several lawmakers had openly accused the CBSL of doing so and State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya declaring that the government couldn’t intervene due to the enactment of new CBSL Act, sources said that the Parliament could address the issues at hand by giving the CBSL an opportunity to give its side of the story.

Sources said that following the latest salary revision, the monthly salary bill increased by 50 percent. However, those who had been attacking the CBSL, over the salary increase, had conveniently forgotten 24 percent of that amount had been deducted and sent directly to the Inland Revenue Department as PAYE (Pay As you Earn) tax.

Sources pointed out that CBSL staff would not be entitled to salary increase until 2027 whereas the government usually granted pay hikes to workers in the state sector.

Sources denied claims that the latest salary increase has been granted under the new CBSL law. Referring to the relevant legal provision in the law, sources said: “The CBSL followed the same procedure it has been following during the last few decades. This has nothing to do with the new CBSL law. These provisions were there even in the previous law.”

Sources said that those who had received higher salaries paid taxes amounting to 36% to the government, and the latest salary increase had been determined, following consultations between the top management and recognized trade unions of the CBSL. According to sources, the management and trade unions commenced signing of three-year collective agreements, beginning in 2000. The latest agreement covers the 2024-2026 period.

Sources said that instead of asking the CBSL for an explanation, a section of the media had gone on the offensive on the basis of unsubstantiated claims and accusations. “They politicized the issue and sought to direct public anger at the bank at a time it was working overtime to bring about economic recovery,” a senior CBSL official said.

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Wijeyadasa: Presidential election will be held in 2024



Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, over the weekend assured that presidential election scheduled for later this year would be held.This assurance was given at a meeting held at the Batticaloa Divisional Secretariat on Saturday (24).

Referring to his role and that of several unnamed others during the unprecedented 2022 crisis, Minister Rajapakse said that contrary to speculation, claims and reports, presidential poll would be followed by parliamentary polls and other elections.In terms of the Constitution and the presidential election law, election should be held in October 2024.

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