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The tragi-comedy of “Last Thing we do, let’s Kill the Judiciary”

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By H.A. Seneviratne

The guillotine is installed. It is to punish those who oppose injustice and to safeguard the political underworld thriving on injustice. It has been set up through a parliamentary process, using the two-third majority that the government had obtained by hook or by crook.

The process itself indicates the gravity of the crisis the government had come to face. Now it has reached the limit and about to explode.

It is not merely a crisis limited to the judiciary. Nor is it confined to the parliamentary legislature or to the executive presidency. In fact it is an exposure of the general social crisis engendered by the political system based on an unbearably exploitative and terribly corrupt economic system.

This truism is now exposed to the entire world through the current crisis in the judicial system of Sri Lanka. A ruthless character in Shakespeare’s play, King Henry the Sixth says: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

Worse things will happen, as the impeachment motion, passed by Parliament of the so-called Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to oust its lady Chief Justice, continues to have its own way. It will simply kill the entire judicial system of the country.

The separation of powers of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary as it exists today under any capitalist system does not, of course, satisfactorily fulfill the role of democracy. But it provides some kind of methodology to at least make justice appear to be done. And within limits drawn by social, economic and political factors, justice as envisaged today, could also be done to some extent.

However, if any judicial system comes under the hegemony of the executive that dominates even the Legislature, then justice becomes a nonentity. It is the main characteristic of a dictatorship.

The process in which the lady Chief Justice was ousted by the President (the Executive) on a resolution regarding the so-called findings of a select committee of the ruling party and passed by Members of Parliament (the Legislature) who come under the absolute control of the President, is absolute proof of the great injustice caused to the entire judiciary to bring it under the control of the Executive presidency.

The motion passed by the Legislature bypassed the Supreme Court determination and the Court of Appeal ruling on the flawed findings of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC). On an application filed by the Chief Justice against the seven PSC members of the government, who after a quick ex-parte hearing found her guilty of three of the 14 charges, the Court of Appeal, in accordance with the Supreme Court determination, had quashed the PSC ‘findings.’

It looks as if the Executive and the Legislature headed by the ruling party followed the words of that character in Shakespeare’s play ‘King Henry the Sixth’, in a slightly modified manner, as follows: “The last thing we do, let’s kill the judiciary.”

The whole episode contains a political drama where the first part is a comedy and the second a tragi-comedy with both my Lady and my Lord as chief justices. Be that as it may. The government has cunningly placed the people before the guillotine while keeping watch along with the politicized underworld thugs to carry out orders against the people.

However, this situation cannot reach the level to which Hitler brought Germany by facilitating a Second World War, since Sri Lanka is an isle hemmed in geographically by powers like India and economically subjugated by powers such as the United States, European Union, Commonwealth and Britain.

Nevertheless, the situation can be worse than what happened to Germany after the defeat of Hitler, since the country has stepped into economic disaster under the current world depression and brutally decapitated by local corruption, nepotism and underworld control of the economy.

The government is finding it difficult not only to borrow but even to pay back the loans already obtained from the World Bank and some powerful countries of the world, much of which have been wasted or robbed under political corruption.

The war launched by the government in 2009 to crush the Tamil Tiger rebellion in the North and East, in order to blind, with communal chauvinism, the island’s Sinhala majority and win their political support, which has created further economic and political problems that will make the government more and more unpopular among the Sri Lankan people as a whole. All this could give vent to a famine, worsened by nature’s revenge due to deforestation and illegal mining, followed by political manslaughter launched against the people.

Meanwhile, the government will also have to face charges of war crimes apart from charges of defying the basic principles of democratic governance, before international courts. In such a situation it is not the opposition in the country or in Parliament but the government itself that will have to betray the sovereignty of the people to foreign power to continue to be in power.

Only a revolutionary democratic struggle of the people, by the people and for the people can save the country from the local dictatorship as well as from any future foreign domination. The permanent revolutionary situation in the world will be a supportive factor for the people of Sri Lanka in such a struggle for people’s power.

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