The consequences of the Black Friday impeachment will be game changing

SRI_LANKA_CHIEF_JU_1328132g
Image by AP, courtesy The Hindu

The Black Friday impeachment is another shameful day in the history of our country. The absolute majority in parliament obtained through dubious means has been used once again by this government to deny justice to the chief justice of our country and undermine the independence of the judiciary.

It is not a black day just for the judiciary. It is a black day for every single citizen of this country. In undermining the judiciary and the rule of law, the freedom and liberties that citizens of this country are born with, have been robbed through the tyranny of the parliamentary majority.

A year and a half ago when the administration brought an ad hominem bill to expropriate private property I said that democracy denoted by absolute majority rule was very dangerous and could destroy the liberties of citizens in the absence of safeguards to ensure justice, freedom and property rights. It was unfortunate that the judiciary, at the time, did not see the necessity to block its passage without giving a hearing to those individuals who were going to be victims of that unconstitutional action. The government applauded that decision. However, last month when the judiciary, in its accumulated wisdom, saw it appropriate to rule the Divineguma bill unconstitutional, the government was not willing to accept that verdict. The judiciary had suddenly checked the absolute power of the government. Using among others, a speech I had made six months ago seeking an investigation on her husband relating to a stock market transaction, the government decided to impeach the chief justice and worked backwards to meet its objective come hell or high water. Even though the judiciary determined that the entire process leading up to the impeachment was illegal and thus a nullity, the government using its absolute majority obtained through dubious means, made an address to the president for the removal of the chief justice.

The assumption is that the judiciary would now fall in line with the wishes of the government due to fear of reprisal. While the Black Friday Impeachment is another step towards achieving the objectives of this autocratic government by taking away the freedom and liberties of citizens I have the confidence that the judiciary would have the strength to stand up against the impending juggernaut.

As a member of parliament I am of the firm belief that the legislature has certain powers that it can exercise without the interference of any other institution. However, I am also of the firm belief that the no ruling party must ever use the majority it enjoys in the legislature to undermine the freedom and liberties that citizens of this country are born with. Consequences of the Black Friday Impeachment will certainly be significant and game changing.

Harsha de Sila, Ph.D.
Member of Parliament and Consultant Economist

  • sinhala_voice

    Harsha,

    The removal of the Chief Justice is NOT a Judicial Process which you are trying to portray it to be.

    It is completely a parliamentary process whether you like it or not. If you don’t like this then there is the option of changing the constitution through 2/3 majority in the Parliament AND passing a referendum.

    The standing orders in the parliament are the internal workings of the Parliament and reflects the attitudes of the current bunch of parliamentarians.

    Standing orders are NOT even bound by the constitution I believe. Because parliamentarians inside the parliament has COMPLETE freedom inside the building.

    I believe JUST like the president of the republic DOES NOT have freedom to use the court system to defend himself. Because he/she can not be charged…SO is the Chief Justice. He/she has no Judicial recourse or avenue as it is a very special position….

    Perhaps the best way is to have a supreme court made up of 9 judges and appointed or proposed by each province…And have a retiring age of 70 years that is it…NO need to have a Chief Justice…This is the problem in Sri Lankan institutes TOO MANY CHIEFS NOT ENOUGH WORKERS…

  • http://Www.iciafs.org Thrishantha

    Looks like MP Hardha De Silva also has become a typical politician. Did he bother to make any critical statement that cautions the Government of the danger of going against the interpretation of the constitution by the Supreme Court during the debate on the impeachment motion so that Hanzard would record it for future reference? Instead the opposition UNP focused full energy on procedural questions that were easily refuted by the speaker Chamal Rajapakse. Will the UNP come up with a new vision confessing that similar things UNP did to intimidate and threaten the independence of the judiciary during the JR Jayawardane era is wrong? With the current stand that conforms well with that of the Rajapakse family administration, vesting power in UNP as an alternative is absolutely dangerous. So, educated people like Hardha de Silva should review UNP’s own brutal past and the current lethargy and ineffectiveness to come up with a new people friendly vision that respects independence of the judiciary and respect for rule of law. I would also expect Harsha de Silva to question why any of those thugs who attacked the peaceful protestors were not arrested. Those thugs were freely moving around the police and the STF. This was reminiscent of how the prolce behaved during 1983 riots, where the police was made inactive for nearly 10 days amidst mob gangs said to be led by Cyril Mathew (UNP), killed innocent Tamils and burnt down their property in Colombo. When are you politicians going to learn lessons from the past? This note is to simply say that we are disgusted of the whole bunch of you in the parliament. Please do something meaningful to protect us, the citizens of Sri Lanka without giving lip service.

    • Sie.Kathieravealu

      Well said.

      The so called “democratic system of governance” must be changed to that will allow the people to directly participate in the governance of the country and not confine it to the “privileged few”

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    “that democracy denoted by absolute majority rule was very dangerous and could destroy the liberties of citizens in the absence of safeguards to ensure justice, freedom and property rights”

    Something very much similar was said in Parliament long ago by the former M.P. for Vavuniya Mr.C.Suntharalingam. Ha said that “democracy is counting of heads up to a limit and that thereafter it would be breaking of heads”

    That was in regard to a subject that is now generally known as the “national problem”.

    What is happening today is also a “national problem” ans so many things that happened in between too were “national problems”.

    All are “national problems” and they cannot be and “MUST NOT BE” solved by “counting heads” and should not thereafter be “breaking of heads”.

    I hope the author will define “democracy”.

  • citizen

    Black Day in Sri Lanka started long long ago in 1956, 1958 when mobs started killing innocent Tamils, raped, burnt down their houses etc. No one voiced their feelings then. The inaction then graduated to several SATATE SPONSORED PORGROMS against the unarmed Tamil. Finally the Innocent Tamils were hunted and chased from village to village with bombing, shelling, multi barrel attacks, rapes, deliberate starvation, bombing of designated “safe zones” etc. Killing of thousands and thousands of surrendering civilians!!!

    Every day is a Black day for Tamils in Sri Lanka even now. Still people are being killed, tortured, raped, disappeared, Their lands grabbed from them and given to thugs from the south. Never ending tragedy!!!

    It is no surprise that the “so called leaders” got immune to their crimes as no one bothered to stop the injustice to the Tamils. Protest from the Tamils are no heeded and whoever protested just disappeared without a trace!!!

  • Don Corleone

    Thanks, Harsha, for arriving late to the party in order to state the obvious – as always. Did you ever bother to speak a word against the process during the entirety of the debacle over the past two months? It seems you are following your flaccid leader, RW, in pointless media/online bloviating that does not reach those who count- the CITIZENRY.

    Perhaps one day you will realize that you are simply a loud frog in a sordid well.

  • Hash

    My Dear Harsha

    What will be game changing will be when your dear [edited out] leader Ranil is chased out from the shores of this country. Honestly, he has been the bane to civilised society next to the LTTE. UNP have lost its integrity, values and are no more greater than the rest of the bootleggers at the diyawanna oya… I am ashamed for you and your stance.. breakin bread iwth such a [edited out].