Cabinet to get cracking on Corruption Court | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Cabinet to get cracking on Corruption Court

The draft legislative framework for a new High Court to hear corruption cases will be presented to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval this week, Sunday Observer learns.

The framework for the brand new anti-corruption court has been finalized by the Legal Draftsman and awaiting final approval from the Cabinet of Ministers this week before draft legislation is made to be tabled in Parliament.

The Government laid the groundwork for the establishment of a dedicated High Court of Sri Lanka to conduct trials related to complex financial crimes and corruption in November 2017.

The Cabinet paper submitted by Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorale proposed that the new High Court would be dedicated to hear cases relating to bribery, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation, money laundering, terrorist financing, organized crime and offences against public property. Minister Athukorale’s proposal was approved and the Cabinet of Ministers instructed the Legal Draftsman to draft legislation to set up this special High Court under Article 105 (1) (c) of the Constitution.

Addressing crowds in Homagama last Friday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Government expected the new High Court would hear corruption cases within six months, as opposed to 6 years. Under the new legislation, the Attorney General could forward cases directly to the High Court for corruption. “Those hearings will not be prolonged and we should be able to get judgments of a case within six months. The maximum time it should take is a year or two,” the Prime Minister explained.

The new proposed High Court will consist of three benches of judges, comprising three judges each. Judges will be nominated by the Chief Justice. Under the new proposed legislation, cases may be referred to the High Court by the Chief Justice on his own motion, considering the nature of the offence and in the interest of justice, or on the request of the Attorney General. Judgments made by the new proposed High Court will be afforded one appeal to the Supreme Court.

Reports concerning 17 cases of serious fraud and corruption that had taken place during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime compiled by the Presidential Commission to Inquire and Investigate into Serious Acts of Fraud and Corruption (PRECIFAC). Dozens of other investigations completed by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) are also awaiting prosecution. Public frustration has been mounting at the snail pace of investigations and delays to prosecute into excesses and abuses by the former Rajapaksa regime.