By Hemantha Warnakulasuriya
(CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK)
On beingtelephoned by Minister Rishad Bathiudeen , the Mannar Magistrate immediately contacted the Judicial Service Commission and gave in writing a complaint.
In the mean time, Minister Rishad Bathiudeen personally called on the Secretary of JSC and wanted the Magistrate transferred. He was told that the judges could not be transferred without a proper inquiry and that there was also a serious complaint, made by the same Magistrate against him, which has to be inquired into.
What transpired between the Secretary of the Judicial Commission Mr. Manjula Tilakaratne and Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, should clear any doubts in the mind of the reader as to who actually gave the call whether it was the Minister himself or an imposter. Only the Minister and the Secretary would know whether the Minister denied having made several telephone calls on being informed of the complaint made by the Magistrate.
It further corroborates the Magistrate’s statement that the Minister tried to force him to issue orders as far back as the year 2009. Minister Bathiudeen had threatened Magistrate Judeson warning him that he had received several complaints against the Magistrate about his orders and warned him not repeat such mistakes. Magistrate Judeson had thereafter informed the then CJ Mr. Asoka Silva, who had informed him that if he continued to interfere, the JSC would take action. The Magistrate had informed the Present CJ of a those incidents too.
This incident is the culmination of a series beginning in the year 1983 when JRJ aroused the mob mentality of his political stooges to breach the law and demonstrate and throw stones at the judges’ bungalows. This lawlessness, encouraged by the political hierarchy ended up in the worst calamity Sri Lanka faced – ‘Black July’ 1983. It is quite remarkable that the judiciary, withstood the evil machinations of politicians and in most cases stood with the people and withstood the political pressure exerted on it by politicians who believed that they could rule forever by suppressing the fundamental freedom of people’s access to justice.
Recently a mob, led by Buddhist priest, assaulted a lawyer who went to the Nugegoda Courts to perform his professional duty. This year, this was the first case of contempt against an officer of Court. At that time, I said that if that situation was not arrested the day would soon dawn when the mobs attacked the judges who ruled against the populist mobs. But, later with great difficulty the identity of the suspect was revealed, and he appeared in Court. He was granted bail. Politicians and their henchmen believe that they have the power to order a Magistrate to do as they say as they are not hauled before a Court for contempt.
Mr S. B. Dissanayake was found guilty of having denigrated the judgment of the Supreme Court by calling the order ‘asinine’ condemning it in rather disparaging terms but there was no allegation that S. B. Dissanayake ever threatened the judges of the Supreme Court or tried to interfere. The fact remains that even the Dissanayake judgment, has not taught a lesson to the politicians or to the political hierarchy. They feel as long as people vote for them they could be the prosecutor, the judge and the hangman.
This incident is the clearest case of the highest contempt ever brought to the notice of the Judicial Service Commission. When Chandradasa Nanayakkara, Magistrate of Kandy, was threatened by the husband of an accused, forcing the Magistrate to release the accused on bail, as the suspect threatened to dash the infant on the ground, the suspect was sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment by the Court of Appeal.
The members of the Legal Profession and the ordinary people of this country hope that a day will dawn when their freedoms would be protected from the vassals, by an independent and robust judiciary.
We must salute Anthonipillai Judeson the young District Judge/Magistrate who, in spite of being threatened that the caller would expose that Magistrate’s younger brother worked for was a member of the LTTE stood his ground without succumbing to political pressure.
Every one in the Mannar Bar knew that the Magistrate was the youngest in the family and he had no younger brothers and his elder brother was a respected teacher. On the 9th of March 1991, at the laying of the foundation ceremony, for the present Building, Desmond Fernando, President of the Bar Association, said ‘Perhaps at this moment of time we should pause to remind ourselves that the prestige of the legal profession has no connection with the size of the building we operate from. We have always been respected.
That is because we have unflinchingly and courageously championed the rights of the people of our country. Let us therefore, on this occasion, re-dedicate ourselves to protecting and promoting the rights of the people… We therefore take this opportunity of reassuring the people of our country that we shall never fail them”.