Righteous men above law | Daily News

Righteous men above law

A civilized society to maintain freedom, equality, justice and fairness within its territory, fundamental human rights, guarantee the dignity and well-being of all the people and the independence of the judiciary frames and puts in place with the moral consent of all its citizens, in common and for their good and well-being, a basic supreme law so that with other just and fair laws that flow from it, such a society could develop consistently and prosper for the common benefit of all. From immemorial times, law expressed the will of the people. In 1651, Thomas Hobbes the English philosopher stated that “Law is the formal glue that holds fundamentally disorganised societies together.”

Thus, civilized people have through civilized representatives of theirs have formulated such laws in as just and fair a manner as they could for the good functioning of society. Therefore the laws of the land are formulated so as to become the basic rules that govern and guide actions and relations among persons, organisations, as well as all relations vis-à-vis the governments.

Law’s edict, mandate and command should make the demands of the law imperative on all, each appropriating what is his due and fulfilling what is obligatory of him. The overbearing authority of the just law specifies the rights, duties and obligations of citizens and their elected representatives and makes the law superior to all so that all are bound to obey the law. The law possesses an authority that is authentic and valid above and beyond the authority of any single individual.

The authority of the law is of such supreme importance that the Jewish people held that God himself is bound by the law he has given and that God does not act contrary to reason and the spirit of the law. Therefore a basic Law should not in written Constitutions be contradictory even in its nuances in any way, exempting anyone from obeying the law.

Corrupt politicians and administrators

‘Righteousness’ is the outcome of the comprehensive fulfilment of the law. Unfortunately just as past politicians made ‘righteous society’ a political slogan, present-day ones have similarly adopted ‘Yahapalanaya’ as their slogan. It is ironic that the UNP and SLFP that have governed this country separately and jointly, contrary to good governance, have done irreparable harm to the country by accommodating within their purview all kinds of corrupt politicians and administrators who directly undermined the short-term and long term well-being of the people and the independence and authority of those judges who with rectitude administered the law.

Clearly, history is littered with pseudo-leaders who, in spite of civilized law’s accrued understanding over centuries, flouted the formulated law and the moral law, misled the people and ignored civilized behaviour and even degraded Constitutions to suit their fancies and triggered many a social injustice and caused immense harm, social chaos and even irretrievable ruin to nations and peoples.

People of many a society in the recent past lacked that uncanny intelligence and social understanding to detect and prevent the individuals who ride on to power on the temporary but tempestuous wave of popular support that disappears in the same way as it appears. This has happened in Sri Lanka just as it did in communist Russia and China and in fascist Germany and Italy among others.

It needs to be understood that above the law there could be no one, unless such a person acknowledges that he is governed by an ethico-moral law above himself to which he freely submits in such a transparent manner that all others too perceive that he does not consider himself divine or above the law or is akin to someone personifying the supremacy of the law.

No one therefore has the right to say “I am the law” except of course metaphorically when a chief justice or a head of government or state asserts thus to underline the justice of his stand in view of the common good and well-being of all the people without any partiality or discrimination. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Mussolini among others, could never have so asserted; they committed much savagery and were heinously unjust to millions of their own people.

In Sri Lanka neither Mahinda Rajapaksa as Head of State nor Sarath N. Silva as Chief Justice could have been seen as transparently just and confident enough to say so, as they shamefully abused the system of justice, indulged in favouritism and made their whim and fancy the forcibly operative law bringing about a despicable state of corruption, unlawful disorder in public administration, in the legal system creating chaotic disorder in the country.

Thrown out of power

Despotic dictators or pseudo authoritarian figures dressed up in mock charismatic garb with the support of certain persons in the mass media, strive to present themselves as populist representatives of the people, when they are in fact ego absorbed individuals who disdain the law, manipulate and control people rather than act as servants of the common good.

In Sri Lanka, too prominent politicians have astutely manipulated the law to put on the garb of heroes and exceptional charismatics even when they were garbled with many a treacherous quality. Of course for the temporary period of their hold on power, they have their lackeys to sing paeans of adulation and praise and even render kingly idolization to them. Their imagination, however, does not run far and they cannot espy how despised they will be when they are thrown out of power.

The law is made to look asinine because the law is misused to deal with people in stupid ways: the law that is intended to deal justly and fairly with each and every citizen his due seems to get bent in warped ways freeing the wrong-doer and convicting the innocent or the innocent getting ignored while the wrongdoer is safeguarded or the most heinous of all, someone with political authority or a judge getting worked up and treating a seeker of justice in the most unjust manner. This has happened also in Sri Lanka and that is very evidently not justice.

People rise dissenting against it as evidenced in January 2015. It is not acceptable. Such should not only be not repeated, those who authored and dished out such patent injustice should be made accountable and debarred from responsible positions.

Is it the fault of the law or is it also due to the deviousness of those involved who selfishly thwart the purpose of the law? If the law is formulated with lacunae it could always be improved upon in keeping with the original intention and reason for a particular law. Laws cannot mend, only restrain crooked hearts.

When laws are formulated they are circumspectly and intelligently formulated by knowledgeable people who include lawyers and other related experts, for the common good of all in society.

The broad purpose of every particular law would be evident from the circumstances and the parametres within which it is formulated even though formulations could always be improved upon by amending and focusing it more pointedly on matters it needs to cover and to uphold the justice and the just purpose for which it was intended.

The end purpose of the whole body of statutes in a country would be the well-being, security and sound health of the body politic by which the strong are bound to be just and the weak are assured security and all have confidence in the system of justice. Much needs to be done to bring this about in Sri Lanka.

Supremacy of the law

In Sri Lanka, there are those engaged in collusion to practically annul the law or not apply the law, suppress the law, weaken the law, sidetrack and deflect the law and do anything but uphold, respect and maintain the supremacy of the law. Many lawyers, even sitting in Parliaments, have not been decent professionals above corruption but exploited their privileged positions to accumulate wealth for themselves. They have been a great disappointment to the people.

Some of those who are supposed to be among the most successful and the best of lawyers are those who earn a lot of money often by getting the wrongdoer and the criminal off the hook.

They even resort to their own ruses to evade or get around the systematic application of the law on income taxes and in various criminal matters. Lawyers should ask themselves whether they are professionally upright when they try to justify and get off the hook patently unjust wrongdoers who have committed crimes of great magnitude. In any case, every serious injustice inflicted on the country is unacceptable and unpardonable.

A judge, on very reasonable and humanitarian grounds, might refrain from strictly applying the law in a particular case and it will seem indeed gracious and compassionate when there are grounds for correction and rehabilitation instead of instant punishment.

A normal marital union or a nuclear or extended family or neighbourhood community is the result of relationships which persist due to accepted norms of human conduct being respected by all. The most notable mark of a civilized people is their adherence to the longstanding ethico-moral norms of society. With education now made compulsory for all, a society with more civilized parliamentarians who obey the law, behave as decent adults and selflessly work for the country’s progress may indeed be achievable.

We need to strive to establish good inter-community relations, to form a united nation and recognize human dignity, mutual respect and honour, secure liberty, justice, ensure domestic peace and provide for the common good.

It is towards this end that a wholesome Constitution that upholds the dignity and rights of people needs to be adopted as the basic law of the land. Only leaders of honesty and integrity could succeed in such a project of establishing a country based on Law where a civilize and law-abiding people could flourish.

 


 

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