President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is calling on the “system of justice” in Sri Lanka to be more “public friendly, efficient and effective with a view to solving the issues of the people.”
He also said that it is important that the judiciary does not “interfere needlessly in the functioning of the legislature and executive branches of government while emphasizing the need for the elected arms of government from meddling with the judiciary.”
In a speech delivered to a Bar Association of Sri Lanka Conference on the future of Sri Lanka, on Friday, President Rajapaksa laid out a broad vision of development ranging from educational reform, the expansion of Internet access to the use of Artificial Intelligence.
He also questioned the efficacy of the system of justice and asked whether the public was well served by the courts.
“Any system is a reflection of the participating stakeholders. This is true even in the case of the executive, legislature, judiciary, business or any other domain,” he pointed out.
“Whilst all stakeholders within the domain of justice can be proud of the Sri Lankan judicial system, particularly the milestones it has reached over a period of time, it is also time for us to reflect whether the Sri Lankan system of justice had been able to work as an efficient and an effective mechanism to provide redress for the problems faced by our citizens,” he said.
The President said that the time “has come for all stakeholders including the judiciary, the government, the legal fraternity and all other concerned citizens to strive to work together and push the system of justice to greater heights and to make a paradigm shift making the system of justice more people-friendly.”
He said that the “independence of the judiciary is the cornerstone of rule of law, and without independence of the judiciary, the rule of law will inevitably fail. However, independence of the judiciary alone cannot make the legal system and the administration of justice on par with the best legal systems in the world. The system of justice will also have to be complemented with an efficient, effective and an affordable process which will provide a meaningful avenue for the ordinary citizens of the country to resolve their disputes expeditiously and in a convenient and an affordable manner.”
He went on to say that both the executive and the legislative branches are elected by the people through a democratic process, and the executive, in particular, has a mandate to act to fulfil the requirements of the people. “It is therefore important that the judiciary does not obstruct the development efforts undertaken by the executive to ensure the wellbeing and prosperity of the people, the President stressed.
“The legal fraternity is often familiar with the phrase justice delayed is justice denied. One of the most common complaints that we hear from the public is that their legal battles get dragged for many years. This had made the entire process less effective for innocent litigants and conducive for interested parties to frustrate the administration of justice,” he pointed out.
“Therefore, it is time for all stakeholders including the judiciary, the government and the legal fraternity to come up with a holistic solution to make the Sri Lankan legal system to be amongst the world’s best,” he added.