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Published On:Friday, November 30, 2012
Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian

For an Independent Judiciary which can Command People’s Trust

( November 30, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The judiciary in Sri Lanka is facing a grave and unprecedented challenge today. 
 It is no secret that the integrity of the Chief Justice was compromised by her husband’s political appointment to public office. However, the allegations of morality leveled at the Chief Justice on this issue should apply with equal validity to the President as well, who appointed her husband to positions that are usually reserved for political loyalists as rewards for patronage.
It is obvious that politicisation of the judiciary over the past several years has had an adverse impact on democracy in this country. In such a context, the Executive has been able to use the judiciary to serve its own political agenda. This is part of a dark history that goes back to the predecessors of the present President and the Chief Justice as well.
In our view, the present attempt to impeach the Chief Justice is a repetition of the same unfortunate history of the Executive’s direct interference with the independence of the judiciary, which we have witnessed since the 1970s. We wish to reiterate that any attempt by the Executive to subjugate the judiciary will amount to the erasure of even the limited democratic space that is struggling to survive in our country. Meanwhile, we note with serious concern that no suspect has so far been brought before the law in connection with the attack on the Secretary to the Judicial Service Commission. Furthermore, it is also quite clear that there is a direct connection between this impeachment initiative and some recent determinations of the Supreme Court on some government bills such as Divi Neguma. These are determinations that did not serve the whims of the Executive.
On the other hand, the parliamentary process of impeachment is nothing but a constitutional façade, designed to provide justification for the arbitrary actions of the Executive. In the name of natural justice, this executive action needs to be resisted. Indeed, the outcome of this impeachment process is certain to convey a chilling warning to all other members of the judiciary as well.
The most important message which the present impeachment process conveys to the country is that the judiciary as well as other key public institutions such as the Departments of Attorney General, Auditor General, Public Administration and the Elections Commission should come under constitutionally established and independent commissions. It also highlights the need to divest the political executive from the responsibility of making all appointments to the judiciary, including that of the Chief Justice. Even the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission accepted the principle of de-politicizing the police and the election commissioner’s department as urgent for democracy and good governance in our country. In short, Sri Lanka needs a new constitutionally established mechanism which has the power and authority to act as a check on the arbitrary actions of the Executive in collusion with parliament.
As artists and cultural activists, we are deeply concerned with the future of democracy of our country. We also believe that an independent judiciary is the first as well as the ultimate guardian of democracy.
That is why we view the impeachment initiative as an attempt to rob the judiciary of Sri Lanka of its independence and institutional autonomy.
We, therefore, urge all those who believe in democracy to resist the attempts to destroy the independence of the judiciary. Let us also mobilize ourselves to restore, defend and protect an independent judiciary which is vital for the democratic survival of our country.
 
1. Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja
2. Dharmasiri Bandaranayake
3. Prasanna Vithanage
4. Parakrama Niriella
5. Dr. Sunil Wijesiriwardne
6. Kusal Pererea
7. Gamini Viyangoda
8. Jayathilaka Bandara
9. Chandragupta Thenuwara
10. K. W. Janaranjana
11. Chulananda Samaranayake
12. Sudharshana Gunawardne
13. Priyanjan Suresh de Silva
14. Cyril Dharmawardane
15. Jayathilaka Kammallaweera
16. Ajith Jinadasa
17. Prof. H. L. Seneviratne
18. Pradeepan Raveendran
19. Indika Udugampola
20. Saman Liyanage
21. Athula Samarakoon
22. Gamini Wijesinghe
23. Pujitha De Mel
24. Jagath Manuwarna
25. Sampath Jayaweera
26. Gihan Chikera
27. W. Jayasiri
28. Lakshman Mendis
29. Athula Pathirana
30. Thumindu Dodamthenna
31. M. D. Mahindapala
32. Mahesh Munasinghe
33. Gunasiri Silva
34. Prof. Desmond Mallikarachchi
35. Buddhadasa Galappaththi
36. Wijayananda Jayaweera
37. Piyal Kariyawasam
38. Gaya Nagahawaththa
39. Channa Ekanayaka
40. Sita Ranjani
41. Manjula Wediwardene
42. Dr. Sivamohan Sumathi
43. Upul Shantha Sannasgala
44. Ajith Galappaththi
45. Anoma Rajakaruna
46. Hareendra B. Dasanayaka
47. Prof. Sucharitha Gamlath
48. K.B. Herath
49. Kathleen Jayawardene
50. Deepthi Kumara Gunaratne
51. Kumari Kumaragamage
52. Sunila Abeysekara
53. Dr. Liyanage Amarakeerthi
54. Kapila Kumara Kalinga
55. Hiniduma Sunil Senevi
56. Sudesh Manthilaka
57. Sanjeewa Pushpakumara
58. Priyantha Fonseka
59. Mahinda Kumara Dalupotha
60. Sunil De K Gunarathna
61. Sunanda Karunarathna
62. Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri,
63. Mahinda Prassad Masimbula.

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