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Unnecessary judicial interventions harmful to democracy - President

Independence of the judiciary is the cornerstone of rule of law, and without independence of the judiciary, the rule of law will inevitably fail.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that considerable harm could be caused to democracy by executive and the legislative interference in the legal process and the courts as well as the judiciary needlessly interring in the functioning of the executive and legislative branches of the government.

President Rajapaksa said so in his keynote address at the inauguration of the National Law Conference 2020 at the Jetwing Blue, Negombo on Friday, Feb 14.



The President stressed the need for separation of powers and checks and balances

The President said: "Any system is a reflection of the participating stakeholders. This is true even in the case of the executive, legislature, judiciary, business or any other domain. Whilst all stakeholders within the domain of justice can be proud of the Sri Lankan judicial system, particularly the milestones it has reached over a period of time, it is also time for us to reflect whether the Sri Lankan system of justice had been able to work as an efficient and an effective mechanism to provide redress for the problems faced by our citizens.

"The judiciary over the years has been able to maintain the rule of law and safeguard the constitutional governance, but we must reflect upon the present status quo as to the availability, efficacy and the affordability of the administration of justice in this county. Time has come for all stakeholders including the judiciary, the government, the legal fraternity and all other concerned citizens to strive to work together and push the system of justice to greater heights and to make a paradigm shift to make the system of justice more public friendly, efficient and effective with a view to solve the issues of the people.

"Independence of the judiciary is the cornerstone of rule of law, and without independence of the judiciary, the rule of law will inevitably fail. However, independence of the judiciary alone cannot make the legal system and the administration of justice on par with the best legal systems in the world. The system of justice will also have to be complemented with an efficient, effective and an affordable process which will provide a meaningful avenue for the ordinary citizens of the country to resolve their disputes expeditiously and in a convenient and an affordable manner.

"The legal fraternity is often familiar with the phrase justice delayed is justice denied. One of the most common complaints that we hear from the public is that their legal battles get dragged on for many years. This had made the entire process less effective for innocent litigants and conducive for interested parties to frustrate the administration of justice. Therefore, it is time for all stakeholders including the judiciary, the government and the legal fraternity to come up with a holistic solution to make Sri Lankan legal system to be amongst the world’s best.

"Maintaining the separation of powers between the three branches of government is critical to this. There can be considerable harm to democracy if the legal process and the courts are interfered with by the executive or the legislative. Similarly, it is important that the judiciary does not interfere needlessly in the functioning of the executive and legislative branches of the government.

Both the executive and the legislative branches are elected by the people through a democratic process, and the executive in particular has a mandate to act to fulfill the requirements of the people. It is therefore important that the judiciary does not obstruct the development efforts undertaken by the executive to ensure the wellbeing and prosperity of the people."

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