The Sinhalese language, known for its pithy expressions, has an expression for the maladministration of justice- ‘naduth haamuduruwangey, baduth haamuduruwangey’- implying that sometimes, the culprits and the decision makers in a court of law are one and the same.

The current shenanigans of the Rajapaksa regime (what else can we call it, with no less than five Rajapaksas in the cabinet?) brings to mind this expression for justice is now being administered in a manner that favours the rulers, their acolytes and ‘yes’ men, fostering a growing culture of immunity from the law for the chosen few.

Just in the last week, several events of concern have occurred in court. First, the Attorney General’s Department informed the Court of Appeal that the Department will not be pursuing charges against former Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda over the abduction, torture, extortion and conspiracy to murder eleven persons in 2008 and 2009.

This was in response to a petition filed by Karannagoda in the Court of Appeal regarding a Trial-at-Bar proceeding in the Colombo High Court against him. In his petition, Karannagoda lets the cat out of the bag, acknowledging that he is reputed as a ‘close associate of President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Rajapaksa’.

We haven’t heard the last of this matter though. The parents of the abducted youth have now petitioned the Court of Appeal, seeking an order to quash the decision of the Attorney General’s Department not to pursue the indictment against Karannagoda.

A few days later, we had a sense of déjà vu when we were informed that the Attorney General’s Department will not be pursuing charges against Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa where he had been charged with allegedly misappropriating Rs.36.5 million of funds belonging to the Divi Neguma project to purchase GI pipes.

Lawyers for the Department told court that two accused had been acquitted and released from another Divi Neguma case where the facts of that case are very similar to this case. Therefore, the Attorney General has no intention to proceed with the indictments.

Of course, in these cases, the learned judges hardly have any discretion. If the prosecution is appearing before them and stating that they have no intention of pursuing action against a defendant, they have no choice but to release them from the charges against them.

It must be noted that when indictments are prepared against individuals- and especially ‘important’ individuals such as Karannagoda and Rajapaksa who, in our legal system at least, seem to be more equal than others-it is not done lightly. Hundreds of man hours of junior counsel are devoted to the case and a lot of effort and meticulous attention to detail goes in to preparing such an indictment.

In what must be cruel irony of fate, these indictments that are now being withdrawn were prepared at a time when the Attorney General was Jayantha Jayasuriya. He is now the Chief Justice but is equally powerless to stop the miscarriage of justice that is taking place, effectively under his watch!

If these decisions are not sufficient to give us an indication as to how justice is being dispensed for a select few under the Rajapaksa dispensation, an even more explosive revelation was to follow. It came from the Archbishop of Colombo, His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.


Addressing a webinar, Cardinal Ranjith said that following the release of the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the 2019 Easter Sunday terror attacks, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had called him two days later. The President had said that he could not implement all the recommendations of the report because it would make him unpopular.

The Cardinal quoted the President as saying, “I cannot do all this. Because there are some provisions in the report that if I implement, I will become unpopular.” In a critical analysis, the Cardinal recalled how he was wooed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa when he was a presidential candidate with the promise that the Easter attacks would be probed expeditiously and culprits punished. “The government has not implemented most of the recommendations of this report. The report has been a waste of time and a waste of hope to all of us,” Cardinal Ranjith lamented.

It will be recalled that the Commission, initially appointed by former President Maithripala Sirisena, recommended the institution of criminal proceedings against Sirisena for his acts of omission that contributed to security lapses that enabled the attacks.

Sirisena is now a ruling party parliamentarian, continuing to lead the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) group within the ruling coalition government. This group amounts to fourteen Members of Parliament and losing their support will cost the government the two-thirds majority it currently enjoys in Parliament.

In what was also a desperate attempt to cover up questions about these issues, Cabinet Spokesman and Media Minister Dullas Alahapperuma this week told the media that the government will not comment on investigations and cases before court or being handled by the Attorney General. Alahapperuma’s excuse was that, issues before court or were being handled by the Attorney General and it is not ethical for the Government to get involved.

The Media Minister, himself a former journalist must know that this is a pathetic attempt to convey the impression that the Attorney General’s Department is a totally independent entity and functions on its own steam without taking any direction from its political masters.

However, this means that the government can and will remain silent on controversial cases such as the murder of The Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge and the abduction and assault on The Nation journalist Keith Noyahr, both incidents which occurred when Mahinda Rajapaksa was President. Of course, when the garbage begins to stink, one needs to put a firm lid on it to prevent the stench from spreading.

All this is not surprising, though. The country had a taste of what three Rajapaksas in the Cabinet could do from 2010 to 2015 and now its is getting a taste of what five of them can do. In his conversation with the Cardinal, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has himself summed up how justice is administered under his Presidency: only what makes him popular will be done. For others, justice will be denied. That is the ‘moral’ of the Rajapaksa dynasty.


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