The Scales Of Justice Are Tipped Upside Down
Those who believe that the country’s justice system treats everyone equally is living in a fool’s paradise. This is true of all justice systems in the world. While some countries try to make it more fair than the others, the truth is that there will never be a system that is entirely fair.
After all, a good lawyer has a better chance of keeping one out of jail than a bad one. The only problem is that good lawyers cost a tidy amount. So by that yard stick alone, the poor start with a major handicap. Add the influence peddling of the elite and bribery and corruption and the system is highly tilted in favour of the rich and famous. So, the system gets some sort of credibility when once in a way a rich or a famous person ends up at least in remand prison in spite of his wealth and connections.
The credibility of the justice system takes a huge knock when the rich and the famous even after being sent to prison end up in the relatively luxurious Merchants Ward of the General Hospital. Or, are flown out where they are allowed to lie for months in a foreign hospital allegedly enjoying visits from the Head of State no less.
Last week, we were told that no warrant can be issued to Interpol to arrest Duminda Silva who lies undergoing further surgery at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. This is in the backdrop of an arrest warrant having been issued three months ago by the Colombo Magistrate Court which was effectively ignored by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) which is conducting investigations into the shootout that occurred in October last year when Presidential Advisor Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra was killed together with three others and Duminda Silva was injured.
Repeated requests by lawyers appearing on behalf of the Premachandra family for Court to issue a warrant to Interpol was turned down on the basis that the Magistrate Court cannot do so without advice from the Attorney General’s Department.
A stock response already given by the CID and its chief investigating officer Shani Abeysekera on why they have failed to act on the initial arrest warrant issued by the Colombo Magistrate Court in November last year to arrest and produce Duminda Silva in court.
Laughably, the CID has even told Court that Duminda Silva is not a suspect in the case probing the killing of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and three others.
Why are we not surprised?
When tens of thousands of people are incarcerated in prisons for petty crimes, recall how the man allegedly behind the biggest ever white collar crime, Deshamanya Lalith Kotelawala spent his jail time in a hospital room. To add insult to injury his wife, Lady Dr. Sicille Kotelawala, a co-conspirator in the mufti billion rupee fraud with an open arrest warrant is having even a better time, in the UK. Interestingly, she too first fled to Singapore in a similar vein to Duminda Silva.
The fixing of these cases is so blatant that it is just ugly if not outright disgusting. The Kotelawala couple were both living it up until the collapse of the Golden Key company. Neither of them had such great health issues that they needed to be permanently warded in hospital. In fact when Deshamanya Kotelawala was out on bail, he did not need immediate and full time medical treatment. Neither did his wife who was gallivanting in South Asia spending her ill-begotten wealth before she domiciled in England.
Of course, if either needed urgent full time medical care one can be assured that neither would not have selected the Merchants Ward. It would have been an expensive hospital overseas. After all, the bills would have been paid by the not so smart investors in the CEYLINCO CONGLOMERATE.
The question that needs asking at this juncture is who is paying for Duminda Silva’s clearly exorbitant stay at the Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore? Is it that Sri Lanka is bereft of medical care professionals who are good enough to attend to the injuries incurred by Duminda Silva?
It is this kind of “in your face” fixing of the system by the elite that lays the seeds for armed rebellion. A person who steels a few hundreds of thousands of rupees spends time in a dirty prison cell with another 20 or 30 people. But people who steal billions end up in hospital – that too in a private room or even better in a nice comfortable hospital or five star hotel in Singapore.
It says a lot about the people of this country that there is no rioting taking place in all of Sri Lanka’s prisons right now with the inmates demanding urgent medical treatment in hospital. Surely they would be reasonable enough to settle for the relative comfort of the prison hospital for the rest of their prison term. Even more stunning is that there aren’t tens of thousands of fundamental rights cases being filed by prisoners asking for immediate transfer to the general hospital (non paying ward). After all an absolutely healthy person would end up sick after spending a few months in the hell holes we call prisons.
The Supreme Court under the able leadership of Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake has not found it necessary to correct this obvious injustice. If the Supreme Court is not able to send Deshamanya Lalith Kotelawala back to remand prison, it can at least send the tens of thousands of inmates suffering from various ailments to hospital. One would imagine that most of the inmates are suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, etc., etc., and need medical treatment just like Deshamanya Kotelawala and Duminda Silva.
The truth is that the tens of thousands of inmates languishing in prison were not clever enough to take thousands of people for a ride or gamble in the drug trade and use that money to grease the palms of politicians and high officials, so that when the game is up they could still beat the system.
The fact is that Sri Lanka does not need prisons. We should turn all the prisons into comfortable hospitals for the inmates with paying wards for the rich. By doing so, we can at least provide equal treatment to those who break the law. Now that would be justice for all – fair and equal.
The tragedy of the situation is this. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka is a nation of gullible and envious people with ultra short memories who are easy to fool. People sit silently as society is corrupted not only by the politicians but also by the businessmen, the professionals, the judiciary and the media, to name a few. In a country where we have bankers who behave like money lenders, businessmen most of whom are mere traders and not entrepreneurs and a nation whose favourite pastime is to do little but bad mouth the political leadership; who really gives a jot that right before our eyes not only is justice being delayed but denied too.
The strongest emotion of a Sri Lankan is envy. It is not a society where fair play and achievement are held in high esteem. Power and money, notwithstanding how they were achieved, is the yardstick for success. Our religious leaders have no problem collecting donations from drug dealers and wheeler dealing businessmen. In fact, they are the pillars of most religious institutions. Once highly respected professionals like doctors and civil servants, etc., are no better than the politicians. The common perception is that our politicians are small-minded, cliquish, corrupt, self-serving, self-indulgent and deceitful. In most cases this is probably true. But, does not that description also fit the rest of society?