A banner making the rounds on Facebook.
Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake is being threatened with impeachment because she defied the Rajapaksa government. Specifically, she said that they needed Provincial Council approval before Basil Rajapaksa could fold Samurdhi and other rural/poor support schemes into a national system. This essentially gave him central control over a huge patronage scheme. Since this Divineguma bill did seem to require provincial approval, the CJ ruled that. Now she’s being impeached.
At it’s not like the Chief Justice was some great opponent of the government or defender of the law. She’s a political appointee who seemed to rubber stamp what the government was doing, and whose husband accepted any number of lucrative government positions. Yet this seems to be one case where she felt like she couldn’t bend or ignore that law. And this is the price you pay.
In a mafia, everybody does wrong. In many gangs to enter you have to commit a crime or kill someone. The security here is that the gang then separates you from polite society and has control of you. They have something over you. In China everybody seems to be corrupt, so if the center ever wants to get rid of someone, like Bo Xilai, they have enough and more charges of corruption and crime to bring against them. Of course, there’s enough cases against everyone. That’s what gives the center power, when almost everyone is corrupt, it’s selective enforcement that matters.
In the Rajapaksa government, presumably everybody has done something dodgy, perhaps even the Chief Justice. That makes it easier to get rid of her, or anyone, even though the system is actually rotting from the top. I’m not sure the government is even getting that creative thought. Their main charges seem to be that she delivered a bill to the wrong person and that she ruled against the authority of the Parliament. Which is A) minor and B) just doing her job. They’re also hinting at corruption, but the whole case against her seems remarkably weak.
They also continuing to attack and tarnish the Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission, who was recently attacked and brutally beaten. An attack which the government condemns, even as they continue to condemn the victim. Added up they’re really trying to subsume and squash a judiciary which many people thought was already pretty close to the ground. I mean, it seems like the government was getting the rulings it wanted, on everything from the 18th amendment to land appropriation bills. But I guess they weren’t getting everything they wanted, they weren’t getting absolute sycophancy, so the Chief Justice needs to be impeached. And the fat patrons in Parliament are quick to sign something they’ve barely read so the Rajapaksas can spread their patronage system to the village level and corrupt the judiciary even deeper than I thought possible.
The previous Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva actually deserved to be impeached, ruling on cases before he heard them and generally making policy from the bench. Yet he somehow remained a thorn in the government (and everyone’s) side until he retired. People tried to impeach him but failed. But there were serious charges against him. If this Chief Justice is impeached for basically just opposing the Rajapaksas, it will confirm that the only real crime in Sri Lankan is being on the wrong side of the family, not the wrong side of the law.