Probe this claim | Daily News

Probe this claim

Former President Maithripala Sirisena has dropped a bombshell regarding the Presidential Pardon he granted to Jude Shramantha Jayamaha who was convicted in the Royal Park murder case and sentenced to life imprisonment. Speaking in a programme on a private TV channel, to the moderator who broached the subject, the Ex-President said the pardon was granted as a result of the intervention of a well known Bikkhu who is still very much in politics and that it later transpired that the family of the convicted youth had given money to the interlocutor who intervened to secure his release.

“There were social media posts at the time to the effect that I received a large sum of money to release the youth and following this I gave instructions to the Intelligence to get to the bottom of the matter and to ascertain what exactly took place. The feedback I received from Intelligence was that the family of the youth had parted with a large sum of the money to this intermediary to secure his release,” Sirisena told the TV channel.

This is the former President’s version of things and only a thorough professional investigation would reveal the true details of what exactly transpired. However, it is still not too late to set things in motion in this regard. But being a former Head of State Sirisena’s version ought to have a ring of credibility notwithstanding the fact he has contradicted his positions and standpoints on several occasions. In the same interview when asked as to why he partook of egg hoppers with his then leader Mahinda Rajapaksa and at the next instance threw in his lot with Ranil Wickremesinghe, he put it down to the nature of politics.

If former President Sirisena’s claim is true and that in fact if the intermediary obtained money from the family to secure a Presidential pardon for their offspring, the Ex-President wittingly or unwittingly is complicit in the whole affair and had committed a grave offence for which he should be made answerable. Here we have a former President claiming that he had been accused on social media for taking money to issue a Presidential pardon and doing nothing when the Intelligence uncovered that in fact it was the intermediary who had obtained the money. Why didn’t Sirisena take this opportunity to clear his name? After all his name was dragged in the mud via social media accusing him of granting a Presidential pardon to a murder convict for a fat financial consideration, was it not? Why did he not get the Bribery Commission activated in order to get the intermediary questioned and if the claim by the Intelligence was true to punish him under the law? After all, enough and more damage had been done to his (Sirisena’s) name over the social media accusing the Head of State of being a graft taker.

There are today 1,400 death row inmates in prisons countrywide against whom a gross injustice has been perpetrated by the release of those convicts in the death row with influence and political power. Is the image of the blindfolded lady holding the scales of justice evenly symbolizing that the law is equal to all and that justice is blind valid any longer? How will these other inmates react when they come to know that one of their kind with money and political influence has gone scot-free thanks to a Presidential Pardon while they are being condemned to rot in their death cells for the rest of their lives?

Presently, Jude Jayamaha is domiciled abroad and there is no way of getting him down to be served true justice by righting the wrong even if the Supreme Court reverses the Presidential pardon in response to a petition, as in the case of Duminda Silva. Both his matter as well as the Royal Park matter should open the eyes of the drafters of any new Constitution to the gross injustice and unfairness ingrained Presidential Pardons and take steps to obliterate this clause from the statute books.

In the past too, blatant violations of natural justice and the rule of law was witnessed in the granting of Presidential Pardons. The rot set in with Presidential pardon granted by the first Executive of this country to, of all people, a convicted rapist who was in the good books of influential politicians. This was followed by a Presidential Pardon granted to the spouse of a Government Minister convicted for the murder of the minister’s mistress. Even the mild mannered and gentlemanly D.B. Wijetunga was not above granting a Presidential Pardon to a convicted criminal which even embarrassed then Justice Minister Harold Herat who had to do the honours.

The whole issue of Presidential Pardons, as could be seen, is tantamount to a slap in the face of the country’s highest Court which is the final arbiter in all such cases that get passed through all layers of the lower Courts and thus is shorn of all doubts and misgivings. To overturn the verdict of the Supreme Court by a lay person sans any advice or discretion is therefore is a gross miscarriage of justice. Presidential Pardons, if at all, should be strictly on the recommendation of an eminent panel of President’s Counsel with the consent of a full SC Bench and perhaps the participation of the Bar Association following the consideration of specific criteria. Mere mortals should have no right to grant pardons willy-nilly to convicted murderers.



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