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Sunday, 8 April 2012

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A fearless bar, vital for Judiciary - CJ



The new President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe PC

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka had assisted not only the members of the Bar but also the judges to uphold the rule of law and for the Administration of Justice. The relationship between the Bench and the Bar had been extremely cordial lasting for several decades, the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake said at the induction ceremony of Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, President's Counsel, as the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka for the Year 2012/2013.

The Chief Justice said the Bar Association is one of the most prominent and impressive organisations in Sri Lanka and its uniqueness was due to its longstanding traditions among other factors. She however said the Supreme Court was presently saddled with an influx of complaints against Lawyers that precede on a regular basis. Currently five Supreme Court Judges are looking into these complaints before they are being sent to a panel to investigate these allegations. Although there were seven panels earlier only three panels functions currently.

She said, arrangements will be made to appoint a few more such panels to look into these complaints expeditiously.

Some of the complaints are baseless and malicious and the only objective was to bring disrepute to the Attorneys-at-Law concerned. "However there were other instances where we come across serious allegations that we have taken up against attorneys along with sufficient material to substantiate these allegations. Our concern is based on the second category as it reflects badly on this noble profession.

"The Supreme Court in 1988 exercising its rule making powers under the then constitution made rules on the conduct of Attorneys-at-Law.

Courts

Referring to the backlog of cases pending in Courts, the Chief Justice said the Judicial Service Commission had been working since 2011 to expedite the process of clearing the backlog. "All of our judges have been extremely co-operative in this process and have extended their fullest support.

However the process had only begun. We have so much to do and many miles to cover before we can even expect to see a shimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. To do so we need to muster all possible support to reach our objective."

The Chief Justice further said that to uphold the rule of law in a democratic society it was necessary to have an independent judiciary. However there cannot be an independent judiciary without an independent and a fearless Bar, she said.

The Chief Justice said that it was a great honour and a privilege to have been invited for this year's annual convocation of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka. She wished the newly elected President Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and other office bearers a successful and a fruitful tenure.

She also expressed her appreciation for the contribution made by the outgoing President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, President's Counsel Shibly Aziz.

The newly elected President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, President's Counsel Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said people of this country needed to have faith in the Administration of Justice.

One cannot expect to hold the rule of law and ensure proper administration of justice unless all stakeholders commit themselves to this worthy cause.

He said it was saddening to note the good relations between the bar and the Bench had distanced in many instances. It was therefore incumbent upon members of both the Bar and the judiciary to restore it to the required standards to consolidate relations.

The continuation of this undesirable state of affairs would eventually jeopardise the legitimate expectations of people.

System

One should not forget the fact that the legal system in a country is set up for the ultimate benefit of the people. The judges and the Lawyers of Courts can facilitate the realisation of these goals.

He said owing to the increase of Attorneys absorbed into the profession annually, it was necessary to explore new avenues to enable them to engage in their profession in keeping with their professional status. "While we appreciate the efforts of the government to provide Court complexes much still remain to be done when it comes to infrastructure facilities and libraries. "I am also mindful of the fact that the non availability of adequate literature in Sinhala and in Tamil has been a long felt need. I am determined to rectify this malady. We all have become the butt of criticism because of the law's delays. Therefore we all have to pool our efforts together to minimise the law's delay."

Referring to international politics he said cognisance of recent developments in international politics pose a grave danger to the sovereignty of our country.

"We cannot underestimate the far reaching consequences that may arise in the international sphere. Right now the country is faced with serious problems affecting our sovereignty as never before independence in 1948. As professionals we are obliged to perform our duties diligently to rescue our country from malefic influences." He said scathing attacks have been made against the judiciary by certain sectors of the media not realising the harm caused by it to the people as a whole.

"We concede that we can make fair and constructive comments on judgements without endangering our legal system.

Unfair and malicious criticism can lead to the loss of confidence of the judiciary by people." He said the legal profession more than any other can contribute immensely towards the establishment of lasting peace and national reconciliation.

Strength

"I remind all members of our profession that we are duty bound to deploy our strength and dedication to salvage our nation from the existing predicament by uniting all communities in society as sons and daughters of one mother.

The newly elected President of the Bar Association thanked the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, the Minister of Justice Rauf Hakeem, the President of the Court of Appeal, S. Sriskandarajah, the Solicitor General, President Counsel Palitha Fernando, and the Attorney General Eva Wanasundara for gracing the occasion.

The Minister of Justice Rauf Hakeem and the President of the Court of Appeal S. Sriskandarajah also spoke at the induction ceremony.

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