Monday, December 11, 2017 09:57:58 PM

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE SRI LANKAN SUPREME COURT?

By Asanga Welikala - Wed Nov 15, 4:37 pm

Photo courtesy UN Aids

A quiet revolution is taking place in the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Priyasath Dep that only a few close observers have so far noticed. During the course of 2017, the Court has made a number of decisions that are nothing if not remarkable when viewed in the context, both of the unimaginative timidity of the older Sri Lankan judicial tradition, as well as the Court’s record in the last two decades.

In one case, the Court determined that advocating federalism is not the same thing as advocating secession, and that the Tamils are a people entitled to internal self-determination within a united Sri Lanka. In doing so, it defanged the effect of the draconian Sixth Amendment, which in criminalising even the peaceful advocacy of secession in the wake of the 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom, not only chilled the freedom of expression but forcefully and unjustly alienated Tamils from the state of which they were citizens.

In another, it upheld a homosexuality conviction because it had no other choice under the existing law, but recognising the consensual and private nature of the act, refused to impose a custodial sentence.

In yet another case, it upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision in invalidating the election of a notoriously reprobate Member of Parliament, who had clearly and consistently lied about her legal disqualification to stand for Parliament on account of holding dual citizenship….

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