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Tuesday December 5th, 2023

Sri Lanka Bar Association hits out at MPs commenting on court cases in parliament

ECONOMYNEXT – Statements on ongoing court cases and references made to judges behind the cover of parliamentary privilege are a direct threat to judicial independence, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said pointing to controversial remarks made by a cabinet minister on a case regarding cricket administration.

The BASL is disturbed by the allegations made by the minister on Wednesday November 08 in respect of a case which relates to a matter concerning the appointment of an Interim Committee to Sri Lanka Cricket and the alleged conduct of a judge of the Court of Appeal, the association in a statement Thursday afternoon.

“The independence of the judiciary is a fundamental principle of the rule of law and therefore, any form of undue interference with judicial independence is extremely serious, and would erode public confidence in the judiciary, particularly, the matters which are subjudice, thus, should be condemned. The BASL has always acknowledged that an independent judiciary is the key to upholding the rule of law in a free society, on the guarantee that judges will be free and will be perceived to be free to make impartial decisions based on the facts and the law in each case, and to exercise their role as protectors of the rule of law, without any pressure or interference from other sources, especially the government.

“The BASL strongly feels that statements being made in respect of ongoing court cases and reference to judges, purportedly taking cover on parliamentary privileges, is seen as a direct threat to the independence of the judiciary. The legal fraternity has continuously raised serious concerns regarding this matter. Further, the BASL strongly believes that the judiciary is built on a foundation of faith and confidence of the general public, and thus it is of paramount importance for judicial officers to ensure the said public trust is safeguarded.

The BASL said it would also like to remind the relevant MPs that the right to represent a client is a professional right which has been safeguarded by law, and any threat to the right, is an attack on the profession at large. In the case of Wijesundara Mudiyanselage Naveen Nayantha Bandara Wijesundara v Sirwardena and Others (SCFR 13/2019), the Bar said, the Supreme Court observed that: “Thus, there is no dispute that the legal profession is a sine qua non for the due administration of justice in this country and for that matter in any civilised society. The said profession is essential for the maintenance of the rule of law and maintenance of law and order and its due existence is of paramount importance to the organised functioning of the society which is primarily the basis for the smooth functioning of the country as a whole.”

Nevertheless, in view of the nature of the serious allegations made against the alleged conduct of a judge in the well of parliament, the BASL said it is of the view that independent and impartial persons should be appointed to probe in to the truth of the allegations made, and, if the said purported allegations are proved to be true, it would undermine the integrity of the judicial system, and if the said allegations are found to be baseless, the same would undermine the independence of the judiciary and the integrity of Sri Lanka’s justice system.

“Any allegation made against the judiciary are found to be untrue, the same would attract penal sanctions including contempt of court. Whilst reiterating its commitment to upholding the rule of law, BASL strongly calls on the stakeholders to act within the provisions laid down in our constitution, and protect the independence of the Judiciary at any cost,” the association said. (Colombo/Nov09/2023)

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Sri Lanka finding ways to clear 1.1mn pending cases: Justice Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is taking a series of steps to speed up 1.1 million pending court cases and encourage alternative dispute solving mechanisms, Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe said.

“The delay in court cases is a serious problem,” Minister Rajapakshe told a briefing at the President’s Media Centre.

“We have already taken several steps to expedite cases.”

There were 5,680 cases in Supreme Court, 4,054 in the Court of Appeal, 6,168 in the High Court of Civil Appeal, 8,363 in the Commercial High Court, 28,000 in the High Court, 254,000 in District Courts and 791,000 in Magistrates Courts.

In 2015, only 49 percent of complaints to mediation boards were resolved. Following reforms, the ratio has been increased to 70 percent.

The value of disputes going to mediation board has been raised to one million rupees from 500,000 rupees.

To solve land problems in the post-war period, special mediation boards on property was set up in the North and the East.

Mediation boards on property will be set up in another 16 districts.

Commercial High Courts were increased to four from three.

Another Commercial High Court will be set up in the future. The consideration of cases that can go to a High Court was raised from 4 million rupees to 10 million rupees.

A commercial dispute resolution law will be introduced next January.

A small claims court has been established.

Case involving disputes below 2 million rupees can be directed to small claims court.

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Sri Lanka stocks close up as some investor interest returns

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Monday, CSE data showed.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.22 percent, or 23.33 points, at 10,743.59.

The S&P SL20 index was up 0.68 percent, or 20.60 points, at 3,067.73.

Turnover was at 708 million. The banks sector contributed 189 million, while the food, beverage and tobacco sector contributed 176 million of this.

Sri Lanka’s stock market has seen some investor interest return after last week’s news that the country had managed an agreement on a debt restructuring deal with an official creditor committee, and foreign funds for some development projects resumed.

Top positive contributors to the ASPI in the day were Sampath Bank Plc (up at 71.50), LOLC Holdings Plc (up at 379.00), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, (up at 90.90).

There was a net foreign outflow of 52 million.

Citrus Leisure Plc, which announced that its banquet hall and revolving restaurant at the Lotus Tower would launch on or around Dec 9, saw its share price rise to 6.20 rupees. (Colombo/Dec4/2023).

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Sri Lanka rupee closes broadly steady at 328.10/30 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 328.10/30 to the US dollar on Monday, from 328.00/10 on Friday, dealers said.

Bond yields were stable.

A bond maturing on 01.06.2025 closed at 13.70/14.00 percent from 13.70/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 closed at 13.90/14.10 percent from 13.90/14.05 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 closed at 14.00/14.10 percent from 14.05/10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 14.20/35 percent from 14.15/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 14.25/45 percent, from 14.20/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 14.05/40 percent, from 14.00/45 percent. (Colombo/Dec4/2023)

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