By Shamindra Ferdinando
A group of lawyers, yesterday (24), protested at Hultsdorp against what a spokesman for them, Sunil Watagala, called the Attorney General resorting to arbitrary actions in the wake of leaked audio clips containing conversations between judges and UNP lawmaker Ranjan Ramanayake.
Attorney-at-law Watagala alleged that the Attorney General hadn’t followed the proper procedure in issuing instructions to the police to take interdicted High Court judge Gihan Pilapitiya into custody.
Asked whether they intended to take up this issue with the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), Watagala, a former JVP Western Provincial Council member said that he would do so at the Bar Council meeting on Saturday, January 25.
Responding to another query, the lawyer said that they intended to march on the Attorney General’s Office if their demand was not heeded.
Attorney General Dappula de Livera, on Thursday (23), directed the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) to obtain a warrant, arrest and produce Pilapitiya in court.
The order was issued close on the heels of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa authorising Pilapitiya’s interdiction as advised by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
When The Island pointed out that law enforces hadn’t so far arrested Pilapitiya, lawyer Watagala appreciated the way Acting IGP C. D. Wickremaratne had responded to the Attorney General’s instructions. The lawyer said that the Police Chief had appointed a five-member team, including three DIGs, to examine the case filed in the Nugegoda Magistrate’s court, bearing B 299/2020, in respect of leaked audio and video clips.
Watagala emphasised that the recording of telephone conversations hadn’t been prohibited by law. However, if the person who recorded a particular conversation deliberately leaked it, action could be taken against him or her. In Ramanayake’s case, he hadn’t released any audio/video clips, lawyer Watagala said.
The lawyer pointed out that in addition to Pilapitiya, two others-Magistrate Dhammika Hemapala and former High Court Judge Padmini Ranawaka were under investigation. It would be pertinent to ask the status of inquiry into the conduct of interdicted Solicitor General Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe as she, too, conversed with Ramanayake on official matters.
Wickramasinghe was interdicted several months ago following the release of an audio clip containing a conversation she had with Avant Garde proprietor retired Major Nissanka Senadhipathy, where she literally apologised for having wrongfully prosecuted him for political reasons.
National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa and UNP MP Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, too, raised the Attorney General directive to the police as regards Pilapitiya.
Weerawansa questioned the circumstances under which the arrest order had been issued on Thursday.
In addition to former and serving judicial officers, SSP Shani Abeysekera, Director, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had been interdicted over leaked conversations. The police recorded his statement, on Thursday, as regards his involvement with the UNPer Ramanayake.
Responding to another query Watagala said that former CIABOC Director General Wickremasasinghe hadn’t been questioned so far.