Ranjan’s tapes open a can of worms | Sunday Observer

Ranjan’s tapes open a can of worms

Pic: Rukmal Gamage
Pic: Rukmal Gamage

The leaking of telephone conversations recorded by the publicity longing controversial actor cum UNP parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake, seems to have opened up a can of worms.

The recordings have exposed unethical behaviour behind closed doors by key personalities in the Judiciary, the police and the legislature shedding light on a shocking backstage drama where members of the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa government were caught up in a witch hunt and other back stage dealings where MP Ramanayake seemingly acted as a middle man.

Minister Wimal Weerawansa in Parliament on Wednesday said a total of 127,000 conversations have been recorded by the publicity hungry parliamentarian, and Ramanayake earlier in the week admitted that it was unethical, but told media he did so as a means of personal security.

The recordings that have so far been leaked include alleged telephone conversations with former CID Director, three high profile judges, the UNP Leader, and former Bribery Commission Director General Dilrukshi Wickremasinghe.

Amidst enraged and widespread calls for action by the President, Government, Chief Justice and the Judicial Services Commission to restore people’s trust and confidence in the law enforcement agencies, especially, the courts of justice, the Prime Minister told media heads at a breakfast meeting on Wednesday (8) that it’s best for the Judiciary to settle this highly disturbing matter. He said it was best for the Chief Justice to take the erred Judges to task since the involvement of Parliament can be interpreted as a political move.

Some government parliamentarians however, voiced that the Opposition bigwigs cannot wash their hands and put the blame on MP Ramanayake alone as it seems that he had carried out a contract on behalf of an elusive person or persons.

Meanwhile, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), called on Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya to clear this serious matter immediately adding that, “Any attempt to bypass or postpone resolving this issue would result in a further erosion of public confidence in the judicial system.”

The BASL has pointed out,”While the Judiciary should be free from any type of interference from the Executive or the Legislature, individual judicial conduct on the part of all Judges is also extremely relevant to maintaining the high standards expected of the members of the judiciary.”

Speaking as the largest Association of the members of the legal profession representing more than 20,000 members, the organization in a release stated that it humbly requested the CJ to immediately look into this grave situation and take strong remedial steps to arrest situations of this nature taking place again.

It has stressed that ‘as the head of the judiciary, we believe it is a duty that Your Lordship owes to the judiciary, the legal profession and the people of this country.’

The BASL is to convene another meeting on Tuesday following which it is expected to issue another statement on the matter.

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General Secretary, Sinhale Sanvidanaya, Ven.Medille Pannaloka Thera:

It has now been exposed how the Yahapalana members destroyed the independence of the Judiciary, and influenced judgements.

Once MP Ranjan Ramanayake was charged with contempt of court…the latest telephone recordings leaked to the media shows how he is trying to elicit favoured judgements. And these conversations have been recorded.

We have been clashing with this unethical behaviour of Ranjan Ramanayake for months now.

He once said a vast majority of the Buddhist monks had been sexually abused once they were novices. He used video tapes to prove his claims, his intention was to defame the Sasana. Surely after such claims Buddhist families will stop sending children to temples and no child will be ordained as a monk. He also called the Buddhist monks uncivilized. It was a shrewd and calculated attempt to harm Buddhism.

Our organization and many others stood up against his actions at the time and we complained to the Mirihana police. It is still pending and needs to be investigated.

We also met the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to urge him to intervene and talk some sense into MPs Managala Samaraweera and Ranjan Ramanayake who were making senseless allegations against Buddhists and the monks. We said the UNP is one of the main political parties in the country, and the ‘majority community’ in the country feel they have been badly let down by his party. We cautioned that these MPs’ actions would be detrimental to the party’s interests.

We did not stop there. Against all our wishes we walked into Sirikotha and met the UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam. He said they could not control the MPs’ personal behaviour. Although they shed crocodile tears now for their election defeat, we did our best - in fact months before the election - to warn them of the damage their own members were inflicting.

We did not take a political stand then, nor do we take a political stand now. Hence, the UNP cannot label our organization as working for a certain party or a personality.

When the recent tapes were released and came to light we expected speedy action from the President and the Government. The Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary are the cornerstones of a State.

The Legislature represents people’s sovereignty. Ramanayake represents the Legislature and he has dragged the Executive and the Judiciary into such low levels that restoring confidence in the people and the credibility of these institutions, would not be easy.

He claims that the then President was influencing the Judiciary, he has lured the judges to compromise .

He has played the role of a middle man and not that of a good Samaritan or a whistleblower as claimed. In addition, CID heads and senior police officers have been exposed on how they fabricated evidence to implicate the leaders of the previous regime. The CID under Shani Abeysekera had been a political cat’s paw. There is evidence of it now and therefore, the Government must take serious action immediately.

He has created a situation where the country can be dragged to lawlessness and people might take the law into their hands. People will be wary of the Judiciary, the lawyers and the police. The Government must act immediately to restore people’s confidence.

The Sinhale Sanwidanaya has already complained to the Judicial Services Commission and the Police HQ. We have done our duty. Several other organisations too have done so.

Judges have been exposed in the case, and we hear there are more than 100,000 recorded telephone conversations. We can only guess what would be revealed when they are released.

We don’t believe the law was made fully effective when former Ministers, Patali Champika and Rajitha Senaratne were arrested. There was a lukewarm attitude, which should not be the case this time.

We must also question why the professional bodies are silent over this issue. I hope they will put their weight behind and ensure this case is investigated immediately. The lawyers and judges must clear this shame cast upon their noble profession.

The law must take its course and Ranjan Ramanayake must be arrested. With regard to the three judges mentioned in the tape recorders, the JSC must investigate and take a decision.

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Ranjan influenced judiciary - Saliya Peiris

The purported conversations between Ranjan Ramanayake and certain judges are absolutely despicable. Some of the conversations, if true, are without a shred of doubt an interference with the judiciary. Certain other conversations now in the public domain may fall short of interference but are nevertheless indiscreet and in my view fall short of the required conduct expected of judges. Both the BASL and the High Court Judges’ Association have rightly called for decisive action. However, at the same time these telephone conversations with a few judges cannot be used to taint the entire judiciary. We should not allow the entire judiciary to be attacked by parties whose interests are not the due administration of justice. What these conversations show are that there are errant judges. There have been errant judges in the past and there will be errant judges in the future as in every country. They need as always to be weeded out. Nevertheless, the vast majority of judges cannot be tarred with the same brush. We must be careful not to allow this incident to be a pretext for interested parties to cow down the judiciary. Nor must we allow those interested in manipulating the system to interfere with the judiciary under the guise of wanting to protect, reform or clean up the judiciary. Such parties should not be allowed to interfere with the judicial process using this incident as an excuse, for their own ends. If there have been flawed judicial decisions delivered under wrongful or unlawful influence there are legal remedies such as revision, restitutio in integrum, judicial review, etc. The courts are well equipped to deal with such situations. With all its flaws the judiciary remains an important bulwark against the arbitrary conduct of politicians and public officials and an important watchdog of the rights and freedoms of people.That function should not be allowed to be obstructed or compromised. BASL

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Presidential commission needed - Ven. Jamburewela Chandarathana Thera

We believe a Presidential commission of inquiry must be appointed to probe the telephone recordings of MP Ranjan Ramanayake.

It is paramount that an impartial inquiry is initiated against the MPs, judges and law enforcement officers exposed in these recordings to restore dignity, trust and confidence in the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary.

The parties who have been politically penalized due to the exposed conspiracies of the former Government must also be given redress. 

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