More than a hundred lawyers working in various courts in Colombo staged a protest today outside the Magistrate’s Court against the Attorney General Dappula de Livera’s directive to arrest High Court Judge Gihan Pilapitiya over his conversations with Actor-politico Ranjan Ramanayake.
The Judicial Services Commission has already suspended the services of Pilapitiya who is currently presiding over the Embilipitiya High Court.
One of the protesting lawyers, President Counsel Nelson de Silva told reporters that Pilapitiya had rendered a great service to justice when he was the Chief Magistrate in Colombo and was seen as a fair and highly competent judge.
The Attorney General Dappula de Livera yesterday instructed the police and charge Pilapitiya with helping to fabricate evidence, aiding and abetting the fabrication of evidence and concealing a crime.
Several of the placards held by lawyers attacked De Livera as well.
Lawyer Guneratne Wanninayake told economynext that the AG should not direct the police to arrest Pilapitiya as the Judge had already lodged a complaint against Ramanayake over the alleged tape.
Wanninayake said that lawyers were also protesting a directive given to the police to record a statement from Lawyer Asha Kumari Kahawatte because she had criticised a judgment. “The AG has no right to police the Private Bar, we have our own institutions for that purpose,” Wanninayake added.
These allegations came after a tape of an alleged conversation between Pilapitiya and Ramanayake was released on Social Media in which the two appear to discuss a case.
Official sources say the acting Inspector General of Police Chandana Wickremaratna had referred the AG’s instructions to a committee comprising three senior Deputy Inspectors General of police before taking action.
The move follows a statement by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa cautioning Police from carrying out arbitrary arrests.
In the statement the President said “law enforcement officers should carry out their duties without any fear or favour, but their actions should strictly be in compliance with the law. He said that any arrests should be carried out only when absolutely necessary and in strict compliance of the law.”
“As arrest is not part of the punishment and results in the serious deprivation of liberty of citizens and other significant implications, such as loss of reputation and standing in the society, arrest to be carried out only when absolutely necessary and upon a decision taken with utmost care and in strict compliance of the law.”
The statement added that President Rajapaksa had sent these instructions to the acting IGP.
Due respect should be given by officers discharging such duties to the Members of Parliament as representatives of the people and professionals such as Doctors.
The Police was further directed by the President to apply the law equally to all citizens of Sri Lanka without any discrimination of whatsoever nature and under no circumstances should arrests be done extraneous purposes. Police was also asked not to tolerate undue influence.