Rishad bathiudeen Responsed to Wijedasa Rajapakse in Parliament today!

Hon. Speaker,

Honorable Speaker, in response to my speech on the debate day regarding the Ministry of Justice, Honorable Minister of Justice Mr. Wijedasa Rajapaksa had made a statement against me day before yesterday.  First of all, thank you for giving me this opportunity to respond to this.

First of all, I would like to say that I did not curse the judge whom Mr. Wijedasa Rajapaksa mentioned. He listened to my speech completely on that day, and finally, according to his conscience, he gave me an answer on the same day.

I understand very well that the statement he made two days later was a speech made for someone else’s desire.

I did not mention the name of any judge in this assembly.  I said in general that in case of any injustice in this country, these judges are the people next to God to give decisions about it.  If a certain judge is under some influence and gives verdicts, we have no right to criticize those judges whether they are right or wrong.  They should fear only their conscience and God.  In this context, if they make a mistake, they will get the punishment for that mistake only from God.

What I meant by my speech is that no matter what religion a judge comes from, the judge’s race or religion cannot be an obstacle to give judgments. This is a country where there are judges who have won the respect of the public by giving bold decisions against four executive presidents of this country.  There are plenty of upright judges in this country.  I salute them.

Independence of judges is essential in any country based on democracy and rule of law.  In a country without the independence of the judiciary, there is no democracy, no human rights, and the independence of the law is also lost. This would be a very dangerous situation.  No foreign investment will come to such a country.  This bankrupt country, if something like that happens, will never recover.

There he said that four judges recused from my case.  He said that for one of the judges, Honorable Judge Yasanta Kodagoda, if he tells the reason for leaving, I will have a big scar.  I don’t have any such scars.  There is no other reason for me to be scarred except that he is my neighbour.  There is no reason as you mentioned, except that I have dealt with all my neighbours as per my religion.  Therefore, it is reasonable for him to withdraw from my case.

Also, the minister said that the reason why the other judge did not sit for my case was because the senior lawyer who represented me and one of his junior lawyers spoke to him on the phone the day before the case.  In fact, I did not know anything about it until the minister said it in this House yesterday.  At the time of this incident, I was on the 4th floor of the CID custody and was detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

But I have a doubt that if such a phone call was actually made by the junior lawyer and the senior lawyer.

To remove that doubt, we need to check the telephone of that judge.  However, I don’t want to talk too much about this issue.  Because, if we talk about this, the entire judicial system may be damaged.

I want to clarify one thing here.

That is, in the speech made by the Honorable Minister the day before, he tried to protect the dignity of that judge.  Actually, I was very surprised when I heard his story.  Can these judges and lawyers talk on the phone about an upcoming case?

I did not know that the judiciary have been down to this level that the lawyers have called the judges on the phone and asked them to hear this case today, or to tell them not to hear this case today.

If the judges are in such a situation today, it is very sad.

 Although you tried to protect the name of that judge as a defense in your speech, you are not actually protecting his name.  If you release such details, the dignity of the court will be further damaged, and it will not be protected.

While listening to his speech, I thought that it is not appropriate to talk about this too much.  I have a lot of evidence and arguments to talk about this, but I don’t want to talk about it or that judge anymore.

But this is not the first time that judges have been talked about in this country.  These judges have been criticized in this parliament before.  A few days ago Mr. Roshan Ranasinghe had criticized an appeal court judge in this parliament.  Also Mr. Sarath Weerasekera had criticized a Mullaitivu judge.  At those times, he did not speak like this against them.  It is highly regrettable that he is making such statements only against me, further adding matters that I have not spoken out.

Also, a former Chief Justice had stated that he gave the helping Hambantota judgment wrongly. I think the whole country knows who it is.  What is the verdict?  Who benefited from the verdict?

 Also, we know that after the 2015 elections, when President Ranil Wickremesinghe went to Temple Tree House, the Chief Justice came out from there.

We have a big problem with the behaviour of the judges due to this kind of actions.  In a country with great judges, due to certain activities of a few people, the judiciary of this country is likely to suffer a lot.

When I was looking for the facts to make this speech, I came to know that lawyers in our country have a set of professional ethics rules, but judges in our country do not have any such procedure.

Not only in Sri Lanka, but in every country, there has been criticism of judges like this.  Especially when there was criticism about the actions of the judges of the United States of America, the Supreme Court itself has established a code of conduct this November.  I will table that code of conduct in this House.  Also, I will table the code of conduct from the judges of the United Kingdom in this House.

I think it would be good if our country also has such a code of conduct.  Therefore, I will end my speech by kindly requesting the Honorable Minister to look into this matter and include such a code of conduct in our judicial system.


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