Zero tolerance for corruption within judiciary - Chief Justice Nalin Perera | Sunday Observer

Zero tolerance for corruption within judiciary - Chief Justice Nalin Perera

Justice Nalin Perera was sworn in as the Chief Justice before President Maithripala Sirisena at his official residence last evening. Picture by President’s Media Division.
Justice Nalin Perera was sworn in as the Chief Justice before President Maithripala Sirisena at his official residence last evening. Picture by President’s Media Division.

The newly appointed Chief Justice pledged that he will maintain a zero tolerance policy with regard to corruption within the judiciary to enhance the integrity and accountability of the judiciary.

Hettikankanange Nalin Jayalath Perera, a career judge with a service spanning over three decades was appointed as the 46th Chief Justice last week, succeeding Chief Justice Priyasath Dep, who retired on Friday (12).

In an interview with the Sunday Observer, the Chief Justice H. N. J Perera who took oaths before President Maithripala Sirisena last Friday (12), said that during his term in office he would strive to address many issues gripping the legal system including delays and inefficiency.

“People must have confidence in the justice system. Justice must be easily accessible to all. Justice must be served to all in all circumstances, without hindrance. We need to address the barriers to the above three. The main one being the delays in the system” he said.

President Maithripala Sirisena at an event yesterday stated that he made the nomination after considering personal, professional information as well as academic credentials. The Judges’ Union had brought to the attention of the President that they had misgivings in the past due to the fact that career judges were seldom selected to the position of Chief Justice.

Justice Parinda Ranasinghe who was the Chief Justice from 1988 to 1991 was the last career judge who advanced to the position.

Reacting to these remarks, Chief Justice Perera said the appointment was like “breaking the ceiling in the system.” The move would bring hope to career judges that they could aspire to become at least a Supreme Court Judge one day, he added.

“The Judiciary should have a fair representation of career judges. But the judiciary also needs to have the blend of different experiences through the appointments from the Bar. However, priority should be given to career judges,” he explained. Speaking about his plans for the legal system of the country the new Chief Justice stated that reforms in several aspects were the need of the hour and must be achieved despite being a challenging task.

Grievances of the minor judiciary which had been overlooked for so long would also be a priority, he added.

“It is equally important to further enhance and strengthen the capacity of judicial officers through training and development on laws, procedure, and etiquette. We also need to build the confidence of judicial officers so that they could fearlessly, effectively and efficiently fulfill their task,” he said.

Another important aspect that was touched upon by the incumbent Chief Justice was the cost of legal action. “We need to minimise the cost that ordinary people are compelled to incur when they strive to access justice,” he said. Chief Justice Nalin Perera is sixth in seniority among the 10 Justices of the Supreme Court.

He has served on the Supreme Court since March 2016. Rising from within the ranks of the judicial service which he entered in 1977, in the 1980s, he also served as the Walasmulla Magistrate in the Hambantota District and Mount Lavinia, Kalutara, and Fort.

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