A sound decision | Daily News


 

A sound decision

The Courts’ departure on Wednesday from the entrenched practice of permitting VIP suspects in court cases seeking automatic entry to the Prison Hospital or a private hospital, upon conviction, no doubt would have warmed the cockles of all right thinking citizens who expect the rule of law to be implemented across the board irrespective of the importance of the individual concerned or the political power wielded by him/her.

We are of course referring to the overturning of a Bail Order obtained by former minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne by the Colombo High Court which found fault with the Colombo Chief Magistrate for failing to call for a medical report from the Colombo JMO before delivering the Bail Order. This is certainly a welcome departure from the practice where the courts allowed accused having political influence to enter the Merchant Ward, or, better still, a private hospital. This is a gross injustice perpetrated on the lesser minions with no influence or power as the High Court judge proclaimed while delivering the verdict.

Recently, the country has been witness to the all familiar spectacle of politicians of all hues who had fallen foul of the law being arraigned before court only to see them making a beeline to a plush hospital, grossly undermining the country’s justice system. As mentioned, all sides are guilty of this abomination. Most of the fat cats involved in the Treasury Bond scam made a beeline to hospital, sporting saccharine smiles on the basis of a medical certificate. Time and again during such occurrences there had been questions raised on the authenticity of these medical certificates not to mention the propriety of the medical officers concerned. It is time that the GMOA or the relevant health authority is called in to subject such recommendations to close scrutiny since this involves the honor and respect of entire medical profession. It is hoped that Wednesday’s Court verdict would act as a strong deterrent to would be exploiters of the system against holding the entire justice system to ridicule by their frivolous antics. The law is no respecter of persons, and, as such, should be applied equally to the mightiest as well as the humblest. But it appears from recent events that some people were more equal before the law than others. This is a negation of the oft repeated saying that justice should not only be done but also appear to be done. No individual should consider himself/herself above the law. That should be the bottom line.

Now that our courts have taken a firm no-nonsense stand against those attempting to belittle its authority, the courts should also go a step further and take measures to protect and preserve its dignity and honour. In the recent past we have seen certain actions by individuals and groups to undermine the authority of Courts and even get into open confrontation with the presiding judges – a scandalous state of affairs unprecedented in the judicial history of this country. Court houses should not be allowed to be made venues for political circuses or agitations of any kind. Court premises should also not be allowed to be made use by politicians to stage acts of bravado like holding up their manacled hands before television cameras while on their way to the prison after receiving adverse verdicts. All steps should be taken by the authorities to enable our Courts to recapture the aura, grandeur and majesty of the past when the rule of law reigned supreme and justice delivered even handedly.

 


Lure of Bacchus amid virus threat

The massive stampede that was witnessed on television at liquor outlets, with the re-opening the country after nearly two months of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic would hardly have done anything to cheer the health authorities whose painstakingly laid down guidelines on social distancing was brought to naught, no doubt, with the lure of Bacchus proving more powerful than the threat of any deadly pandemic. The utter chaos and mayhem seen at some of these liquor outlets, particularly in the outstations, was a clear indication that the imbibers were determined to make up for lost time and made one wonder if the Rs. 5000 handout given by the Government to tide over the hardships during the Coronavirus pandemic went towards the intended purpose. The picture would certainly not have pleased Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe who has laid the onus on the public for taking the laid down precautions seriously and acting in conformity with them. It was based on this trust and understanding that the country was reopened for normal business. The cheek by jowl tussle at the liquor counters that was witnessed, no doubt, would have made him cringe. The authorities should take a fresh look on the whole affair of lifting restrictions and ensure it is not haphazardly done.


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