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JVP lawyers to move CA against PCoI report

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By Saman Indrajith

The JVP-led Lawyers for Democracy is planning to move the Court of Appeal against the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Political Victimisation as they claim the release of the document is tantamount to contempt of court.

Addressing the media at Solis Hall in Pitakotte yesterday former JVP Provincial Councilor Attorney-at-law Sunil Watagala said that the commission report has recommended the release of 61 persons whose cases were being heard before High Courts. “It is a known fact that matters pending before courts are sub judice and cannot be adjudicated elsewhere as the cases are in progress. The commission has done that. Along with those 61 cases, the commission report recommends the release of accused of several other cases. The commission report recommends the release of accused in 79 cases. This shows that the commission has overstepped its mandate. We are planning to challenge the commission report in the court of appeal.”

Watagala said that the President had appointed another commission to recommend that Parliament be vested with powers to implement the report of Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Political Victimization. “There were instances of hurling stones at the houses of the judges who had judgments not to the liking of government politicians. A Chief Justice was removed as she did not give in to political pressure. A former chief justice made a public apology for a judgment he had once given. It is our belief that this commission has caused an affront to the dignity of judiciary.”

Former commissioner of the Human Rights Commission senior lawyer Ghazali Hussain said: “In a case there are two parties – there is a victim and a suspect. The commission report recommends punitive actions against the victims of the cases pending before courts. This is a serious matter connected to democracy of our society. We must uphold the independence of judiciary. Judicial system should not be permitted to be influenced by the needs of political authority. As concerned citizens it is our duty to stand against this unjust act motivated by partisan politics.”

Senior Lawyer Upul Kumarapperuma said: “There is a fundamental principle in judicial matters known as natural justice. As per that principle, one cannot be the judge of his own case and both parties of a case should be listened to before any decisions. That principle is not upheld in this matter. The second requirement of the natural justice that is to listening to both parties is not maintained in the commission report. This is one sided opinion. That is the biggest weakness of this commission report.”

Attorneys-at-law Harshana Nanayakkara, Manjula Balasuriya, Akalanka Udawatte and Charith Galhena also addressed the press.



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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