ECONOMYNEXT – If any one of a number of considerations were not satisfied in the release of former MP and murder convict Duminda Silva, the presidential pardon granted to him would be unreasonable and arbitrary, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said June 24 afternoon.
The BASL said in a statement that it has written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and requested that he convey to both the Bar and the public:
- The basis on which Silva was selected for the purpose of granting a pardon under article 34 (1) of the constitution
- The circumstances which were taken into consideration in granting such pardon
- The reasons as to why Silva’s case stands out from others who are currently sentenced
- Whether a report was called for by the president from trial judges as required by the proviso to article 34( 1) prior to granting the pardon and, if so, the contents of the report
- Whether the advice of the attorney general was called for prior to granting of the pardon and, if so, the contents of such advice
- Whether the recommendation of the minster of justice was obtained prior to granting the pardon and, if so, whether the minister made such a recommendation
If any of the above considerations are not satisfied, the BASL said, the pardon will result in “erosion to the rule of law and result in a loss of public confidence in respect of the administration of justice”.
According to the BASL, whilst article 34 (1) allows the president to grant such a pardon, either free or subject to lawful considerations, the provisos to the article require the president to call for a report from the judge who tried the case where the offender has been condemned to death. Such report is required to be forwarded to the attorney general for advice, and the proviso also requires the attorney general’s opinion to be referred to the minister of justice who too is required to submit a recommendation to the president, the statement said.
“It is the right of the public to know whether the said pardon has been granted in accordance with the report of the trial judges, the opinion of the attorney general, and the recommendation of the minister of justice,” the BASL said.
Whilst the president has the power and discretion to pardon, such discretion must always be exercised judiciously and such power must not be exercised arbitrarily and selectively, it added. (Colombo/June24/2021)