Sarath Silva by Dhamma Society
The Supreme Court over-turned that absurd media gazette, as expected. If enacted it would have shut down a huge section of the private media and made the rest subject to the whims of the Information Ministry. What’s odd is not the audacity of the law itself, but that they tried to enact it without any parliamentary debate. Like, you know, laws. What’s even odder is that the law was overturned by a Supreme Court Justice who seems to do what he feels like. Nowhere in the whole process is there rule of law, it’s just different sets of powers stomping around. In this case the Supreme Court comes down on the side of reason, but Sarath Silva is concentrating so much arbitrary power there that it’s becoming dangerous for the rule of law. What happens if/when Mahinda appoints his successor and we start getting unappealable decisions from that guy?
Lately Sarath Silva seems like a superhero, getting former President CBK for corruption, shutting down Water’s Edge, John Keells profitable marine bunkering and gunning for Sri Lanka Insurance and other privatization. He’s also ruled on everything from the thickness of plastic bags to parking in Colombo. But it makes you wonder. How far have the institutions broken down in this country that everything seems to be a Fundamental Rights petition, and that a Supreme Court Justice (singular) is deciding all of this stuff that a democracy and legislature should theoretically be doing.
Because, fundamentally, the issue is not the yay or nay on these particular cases, but what sort of institutions we’re building. And, as far as I can tell, the institution is rotten and dependent entirely on the personality in the post. Sarath Silva, before his do-gooder turn, was known for his share of questionable deeds and associations. Even now he can be vengeful and, at times, batshit crazy. And yet the most vital questions to our nation are channeled through one legal mechanism (the Fundamental Rights petition) to this one man. And maybe the rulings make sense now, but what about the institution. When he’s gone, then what? What will the next personality be like, especially if appointed by Mahinda?
Can you imagine if the Supreme Court hadn’t overruled the deportation of Colombo Tamils, or this attempt at shutting down private media, among other things? Perhaps we got the rulings we want from this guy, but at the same time he’s destroying the rule of law by consolidating so much power in himself. And when he’s gone? Then the government could go crazy and have us all perp-walking around Colombo, and there’d be no checks and balances to stop them. Because no institutions have been built to protect us. It’s sad that these basic rights rest in the hands of one man, rather than emerging from rule of law.