Connect with us


Top AG’s Dept. official compelled to retire in spite of court order for her reinstatement



Tribunal: Senadhipathy trapped SG Wickramasinghe with the help of UNP Minister

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Despite being cleared by the Administrative Appeals Division (AAD), the interdicted Solicitor General Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe hadn’t been allowed to return to the Attorney General’s Department regardless of specific instructions issued in that regard.

The AAD gave the ruling in respect of a case filed by Wickramasinghe against the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The then Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, interdicted SG Wickramasinghe on 25 Sept. 2019 following a leaked telephone conversation she had with Avant Garde proprietor Nissanka Senadhipathi, formerly of the Army Commando Regiment. The conversation was leaked to the media on 20 Sept., immediately after the recording of the discussion.

Wickramasinghe retired on July 30th after reaching the compulsory retirement age. The unprecedented ruling was given by a three-member AAD comprising Justice N.E. Dissanayake, A Gnanathasan, PC and G.P. Abeykeerthi. Justice Dissanayake functions as the Chairman of the highest tribunal empowered to inquire into such appeals.

Wickramasinghe appealed to teh AAD on Oct 5, 2020. The issue at hand before the AAD had been the disciplinary authority exercised by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in respect of the Solicitor General.

The original ruling given on July 14 was amended on July 22 subsequent to the PSC seeking clarification of some matters which the AAD considered important. The AAD acknowledged that the issues raised by the PSC hadn’t been taken into consideration at the time of the issuance of the July 14 ruling.

Attorney-at-law Riad Ameen and Assistant Secretary PSC Srinath Rubasinghe, appeared for Wickramasinghe and the PSC respectively.

The leaked telephone conversation in question was over the controversial case of the Avant Garde floating armoury that divided the previous government with Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana, PC and Justice Minister Dr. Wijayadasa Rajapakse, PC, striking discordant notes.

Dappula de Livera’s successor, Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, hadn’t, however, allowed SG Wickramasinghe to resume work in spite of the original order nor the amendment ruling given on July 14 and July 22, respectively. A copy of the original order was delivered to the AG’s Office on the evening of July 14.

Rajaratnam succeeded de Livera on May 26 this year.

The AAD ordered (1) Immediate cancellation of PSC directive dated April 06, 2021 that placed SG on compulsory leave pending the completion of a formal inquiry (2) Rescinding of the PSC directive dated October 19, 2020 that sent the SG on compulsory leave to pave the way for her to resume duties (3) Retiring her on July 30, 2021 on her reaching the compulsory retirement age and (4) finalising the much-delayed formal inquiry into the SG’s conduct in terms of Public Administration Circular 30/2019 dated September 30, 2019, expeditiously.

However, the above-mentioned directives were not carried out and SG Wickramasinghe had to retire on reaching the retirement age.

Acknowledging that Wickramasinghe had found fault with the present PSC for the undue delay in finalising the preliminary inquiry and reinstate her, the AAD declared that the PSC failed to ‘exercise its discretion in a justifiable, reasonable and an objective manner.

One-time Director General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) Wickramasinghe declined to comment on the AAD ruling.

The AAD in its observations in the order pointed out that Senadhipathy had trapped SG Wickramasinghe with the help of the then UNP Minister Vajira Abeywardena, who gave his phone to SG Wickramasinghe, stating that Senadhipathy was on line. According to the proceedings, Abeywardena had received the call at a Colombo hotel while he was having dinner with SG Wickramasinghe and her husband.

Abeywadena is the current Chairman of the UNP. He was not immediately available for comment.

The AAD expressed astonishment at the failure on the part of those who conducted the preliminary inquiry to record Abeywardena’s statement or examine his phone. The AAD noted that Senadhipathy had got to SG Wickramasinghe through the Abeywardena’s phone after Wickramasinghe strongly opposed the minister inviting Avant Garde Chairman to have dinner with them at the Abeywardena’s residence.

The AAD stated that it had the power to take remedial measures in respect of decisions ‘tainted with error in law and fact’ taken by the PSC.

The AAD noted that SG Wickramasinghe hadn’t initiated the call and from the outset she insisted that the recording was ‘doctored, edited and distorted.’ Proceedings have revealed that AG de Livera had first listened to a tape recording that was edited at ten places and Senadhipathy himself admitted having edited the recording but he never submitted the original to the Preliminary Investigation Committee. The AAD pointed out that the AG de Livera at the time he made a statement at the preliminary investigations based his assessment on what the AAD called an edited, distorted and unauthentic version of the recording. In spite of this, the AG subsequently acknowledged that the audio tape he had listened to was distorted. However, a second statement hadn’t been recorded from him. But the PSC deciding to issue a charge sheet dated March 23, 2021 although the Preliminary Investigation team said the audio tape had been tampered with.


Latest News

Earliest Sri Lanka can recover from bankruptcy is in 2027 – Dr Bandula Gunawardena




Minister of Transport and Highways and Minister of Mass Media Dr Bandula Gunawardena at a press briefing held at the Presidential Media Center today (30) said that the earliest Sri Lanka can recover from bankruptcy is in 2027, at which time it is envisaged that the countries foreign reserves which stand at USD 3.5 billion at present would increase to USD 14 billion..


Continue Reading

Foreign News

Pope Francis to evict Cardinal Raymond Burke from Vatican




US Cardinal Raymond Burke has been a leader in the Catholic Church for decades (BBC)

Pope Francis is evicting US Cardinal Raymond Burke, an outspoken critic, from his Vatican apartment and revoking his salary.

Cardinal Burke is part of a group of American conservatives who have long opposed the Pope’s plans for reforming the Catholic Church.

A Vatican source told the BBC that Pope Francis has not yet carried out his intention to evict the 75-year-old and the decision is not meant as a personal punishment, the source added. Instead, it comes from the belief that a person should not enjoy cardinal privileges while criticising the head of the church.

Still, the move is “unprecedented in the Francis era”, Christopher White, a Vatican observer who writes for the National Catholic Reporter, told the BBC. “Typically, retired cardinals continue to reside in Rome after stepping down from their positions, often remaining active in papal liturgies and ceremonial duties,” he said. “Evicting someone from their Vatican apartment sets a new precedent.”

White warned that the decision could “provoke significant backlash” and deepen divides between the Vatican and the US church, where there is already “fragmentation”.

Cardinal Burke has yet to respond to the news and the BBC has reached out to his office for comment.

The Pope revealed his plan to act against the cardinal at a meeting with heads of Vatican offices last week. His frustration with US detractors who take a more traditional or conservative view on several issues appears to be coming to a boil.

Earlier this month, he fired Joseph Strickland, a conservative Texas bishop who had blasted his attempts to move the church to more liberal positions on abortion, transgender rights and same-sex marriage. The removal followed a church investigation into governance of the diocese.

A few months before, the Pope told members of the Jesuit religious order in Portugal that there was “a very strong, organised, reactionary attitude in the US church”, which he called “backward”, according to the Guardian.

Tensions with Cardinal Burke, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, have been simmering for nearly a decade, with the American prelate openly criticising Pope Francis over both social and liturgical issues.

“Cardinal Burke’s situation seems to stem from his gradual alienation from the Pope,” said  White. “It appears the Pope perceives Burke as fostering a cult of personality, centred around traditionalism or regressive ideals. This action seems aimed at limiting Burke’s influence by severing his ties to Rome.”

Pope Francis with hand up in front of Vatican building
Pope Francis waves to crowds while leaving St Peter’s Square (pic BBC)

Most recently, the cardinal held a conference called The Synodal Babel in Rome on the eve of the Pope’s synod, or meeting of bishops, last month.

He also joined fellow conservatives in publishing a “declaration of truths” in 2019 that described the Catholic church as disoriented and confused under Pope Francis, saying that it had moved away from core teachings on divorce, contraception, homosexuality and gender. Notably, he disagreed with the Pope promoting Covid vaccines.

Within church politics, he and Pope Francis were at odds over the firing of the head of the Knights of Malta after the order’s charity branch was found to have distributed condoms in Myanmar.

The Pope, in turn, has demoted Cardinal Burke within the church hierarchy or moved him to posts with less influence over the years.

Michael Matt, a columnist for the right-wing Catholic newspaper The Remnant, wrote that the most recent action taken against Cardinal Burke showed that Pope Francis was “cancelling faithful prelates who offer hierarchical cover to pro-life, pro-family, pro-tradition hardliners”. He accused the Pope of putting critics into “forced isolation”.


Continue Reading

Foreign News

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dies aged 100




Henry Kissinger at the State Department's 230th anniversary celebrations in 2019

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has died at the age 100.

He served as America’s top diplomat and national security adviser during the Nixon and Ford administrations.

In a statement, Kissinger Associates, a political consulting firm he founded, said the German-born former diplomat died at his home in Connecticut but did not give a cause of death.

During his decades long career, Mr Kissinger played a key, and sometimes controversial, role in US foreign and security policy.

Born in Germany in 1973, Kissinger first came to the US in 1938 when his family fled Nazi Germany. He became a US citizen in 1943 and went on to serve three years in the US Army and later in the Counter Intelligence Corps. After earning bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees, he taught international relations at Harvard.

In 1969, then-President Richard Nixon appointed him National Security Adviser, a position which gave him enormous influence over US foreign policy in two administrations.


Continue Reading