A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
SRI LANKA: Rape Suspicions Against A Senior Judge And Implications On The Rule Of Law System
In July of this year a web newspaper, the Sri Lanka Guardian reported an alleged case of sexual abuse by an appeal court
judge. Last weekend, Lakbima reported that the CID has submitted its report of inquiries into the incident and that the
investigation found adequate evidence against the judge. The CID has submitted the report to Inspector General of Police
who forwarded it to the Attorney General. According to the report CID has not proceeded to arrest the judge in order to
avoid complications and awaits instructions from the AG. Earlier the Chief Justice has ordered an inquiry into the case
and according to the Lakbima report the Chief Justice ordered the judge not to attend court.
The arrest of a rape suspect does not require clearance from the AG. Many persons have been arrested under such charges
by the police and judges are subjected to the law as much as anyone else. (The only exception to this rule is the
Executive President who has been placed above the law by the Constitution. No other head of a state in the world enjoys
such wide immunity from prosecutions). Thus the delay in arresting the suspect is, in itself, a violation of the law.
However, the precautions taken by the CID is understandable under the present circumstances.
As the CID report contains adequate evidence against the suspect judge there is no reason for the AG to delay giving
clearance for the police to carry out their normal duties as required by law. It is to be hoped that no political
pressure would be exercised at this stage to stop the proceedings. The due process of law would require speedy action in
this case, even more so than in the case of a common criminal. Any delay will further damage the citizen's faith in the
rule of law in the country.
Perhaps this is the first time in the 200 year history of the country's judiciary that a judge of a superior court is
suspected of such a serious crime. This, more than anything else, must be the reason to strictly follow all the rules
relating to due process in order to assure the public that serious corrective measures are being taken. Months of delay
in this case has given rise to serious suspicion about the state of affairs at the highest places.
It is up the top judiciary itself to reflect on the implications of this situation and to take appropriate measures to
overcome whatever damage that has resulted from this situation. It is one of the most serious issues that country’s
judiciary has faced and it is likely that in future there would much interest in studying the manner in which judiciary
dealt with this issue.
As for CID it has once again shown that it has the competence and capacity to deal with serious investigations without
any use of torture and other illegal methods. What hinders the performance of the CID is not limitations of the
department's competence but rather the political pressure that obstructs the department from carrying out its legal
While the process of arrest is being carried out it is vital to provide protection to the victim and witnesses in order
to ensure that they are not intimidated or harassed. Often witnesses are harassed to the extent where they withdraw
their testimonies. The draft law on witness protection is before the parliament but seems to have been forgotten. It is
up to judiciary itself to make representations to the government about the speedy passing of this law. Even the
opposition is not taking much interest in getting this important law passed.