Disputed Justice

Sept 18, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s private sector should have been more forceful in challenging a chief judge seen as brilliant but dominating whose judgments raised questions about the process of public interest litigation, a public forum was told. Affected businesses could have asked for immediate reviews of what they considered bad decisions of the powerful former chief justice Sarath Silva who reversed three privatization deals, among other controversial and wide-ranging decisions, lawyers said.

A spate of applications for revision came only after Silva retired.

Corporate lawyer Arittha Wikramanayake told an LBO-LBR chief executive officers forum which discussed the impact of the public interest litigation that defendants were too scared to challenge the chief judge.

“The complaint here is not about the process,” he told the forum. “The people complain they were rushed into the hearing. Unfortunately no one had the courage to get up and say, okay, enough is enough.

“We had a very, very strong Chief Justice, a brilliant Chief Justice, let me add, and everybody caved in. Nobody had the guts to stand up to him. And that is the crux of this problem.”

Wikramanayake said the affected parties, if they were not happy with Silva