Shouldn't those who are taking up the refrain that the
Chief Justice’s position in this country is somehow diminished,
due to the fact that there are ‘two Chief Justices’ (!!) or that
there are some scurrilous charges made against the incumbent
chief and therefore he allegedly stands disqualified, be charged
for contempt of court?
On the other hand, the law enforcement authorities in this
country are not hypocrites, the way some of the civil society
and NGO denizens are on a regular basis. NGO charlatan
Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu for instance, has for long been, under
aegis of his organization Centre for Policy Alternatives,
campaigning for codified contempt of court legislation in this
This is due to the fact that contempt legislation has
hitherto been rather clumsy and cavalier even; judges were able
to summon persons for alleged contempt and without so much as a
show cause or a call for defence, summarily sentence persons to
serve time behind bars for contempt of court.
This procedure was arbitrary and almost feudal in character.
It was possibly due to the fact that court was thought to be
invested with almost god-given divine powers, or at least that
was the aura created.
But that would not do. Law should presuppose that everybody
is innocent until proven guilty, and this applies to everyone
including those who allegedly had the temerity to insult court
and rub judicial officers on the wrong side.
This is why Paikiasothy’s organization called for codified
law when it concerned matters of contempt, and this was a
justified position, probably a result of diligent work and
application by those who were involved in the area of legal
research in this NGO.
But that didn’t stop these agenda driven NGO leadership from
calling for contempt action with regard to anyone who dared go
against their pre-conceived plan to thwart the Select Committee
proceedings against former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
All the pious scholars who called for codified contempt laws and
a codified legal regimen on contempt, were seen to be standing
on barstools tub-thumping for the instant arrest of those who
had dared say anything contrary to their own views on the recent
When tables have turned a bit and there are others now
calling for contempt action against these same people for public
calumny against the new Chief Justice and for questioning his
constitutionally derived authority, they have apparently decided
to go back to the old refrain that contempt laws should be
codified, and that nobody should be hauled up for contempt until
that is done!
The less that is said about the level of hypocrisy in this
position the better, but it bears mention that the Attorney
General’s department for instance is not pursuing any contempt
charges because the AG’s department at least covets the moral
high ground compared to these Janus-faced NGO con artistes!
The department is willing to give ear to what these people’s
research officers and other scholars of course have been saying
for some time, which is that contempt is something that should
not be applied arbitrarily, and in a vacuum, without reference
to some kind of formalized legal regimen.
Paikiasothy and their ilk should thank their stars that they
are not behind bars or in leg irons, under the circumstances! If
they were proper people, they would have reported back to all
interested parties in their donor countries that Sri Lanka is
such a country where in spite of their challenging the legal
system in the most unorthodox manner, they are taken to be of
nuisance value and nothing more - - something that very probably
would have not been the case if civil society persons of their
sort in these donor countries were in contempt of court in a
Strange then that the more they have strained to say that
this country somehow is characterized by authoritarian rule
marked by an absence of rule of law, the more they are in
practice privy to enjoying greater freedoms not obtainable in
the countries they regularly bow scrape and kowtow to!