| by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam
( February 27, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the article in Sri Lanka Guardian ‘Being punished for going to Court’ by Kishali Pinto Jayawardene.
|Military blocking the protesting fishermen on the Colombo-Chilaw highway-pic courtesy: WSWS.org|
Ms Jayawardene concludes by saying ‘Let us make no mistake about this. The subversion of our governance processes cannot be hidden any longer under the convenient bogey of the ‘virtual’ reawakening of the LTTE or the uproarious notion that the entirety of the West is conspiring against us, though propagandists may try to tell us so. We do not need the European Commission or the United Nations to tell us that our constitutional systems are not being worked properly. This we know for ourselves. The question is, what do we intend to do about it? ‘
The most important lesson I have learnt in life is NOT to expect beyond the level that any system could deliver. Hence, knowing the system is important when we expect as per intellectual calculations. Those who invest in Truth Itself would find it easier to take the essence of their work to various institutions and forums including but not limited to legal institutions. Such persons would be able to derive their own returns through the highest system they feel a part of. They naturally lead those they are with, within those systems. Those who have NOT invested in legal systems are really placing much strain on the legal system by failing use other ‘internal’ systems before going to Courts. They and their money driven lawyers are as guilty as the Politicians for the deterioration of the legal system.
We keep blaming our politicians for the deterioration of law and order in Sri Lanka. Would we have deteriorated to this extent if our family, social and workplace systems beyond the reach of the government had been healthy? Those of us who actually practice a particular law have the earnings to access courts directly and expect outcomes as per our investments. Yet, how many lawyers facilitate this? How many Court Administrations are currently facilitating this to balance civilians playing politics by directly opposing the Government?
Even here in Australia, Australians of Lankan origin tend to use lawyers when they go to Courts for particular outcomes, but when it comes to criticizing politicians – they do not use elected representatives but they take up the position of opposition to the highest official. One is entitled to do this ONLY to the extent one is driven by belief, because through belief one is Common. At all other times, one needs to be limited by the official positions of the structures and systems the two are part of or consciously come beyond that system into the system of Natural Justice driven by Truth. As per my observations, it is the lack of commitment to such common structures and systems, coupled with bilateral agreements between individuals for immediate benefits – as in business basis – that has led to deterioration of the Administrative system of Sri Lanka, closely followed by the deterioration in the Judicial system. How many courts in Sri Lanka actually practice the law through whose name they deliver judgment? How many of them pay respect to the cultures that have given us those laws – especially Western laws? To the extent they fail to pay their respect – the value of the law becomes very ‘local’ for local purposes only. Those beyond that area would not be able to identify with the judgments and the values they represent. This eventually results in isolation of those systems.
How many lawyers are committed to interpreting what happened through the law common to both sides – rather than through local social and cultural status and thoughts influenced by such status? Both in Colombo as well as in Northern Sri Lanka, I was asked by lawyers of the opposition, questions about my second marriage – as if I was going through a divorce or custody battle !!! I could see no relevance of this to the matter before the courts and yet, this was allowed in the court process. That to me is infiltration of local culture into the legal system that is required to be common, for quick gains by cheating – by influencing the cultural thinking of the Courts.
Yet not too far from the Courts in North, our community was dealing with the pain parents were experiencing due to their underage daughter eloping with the son of a neighbor. In that case my advice to the mother of the young girl, prior to the incident was – NOT to go to Police but to resort to family and community systems in which the family has invested. The mother failed to hear me and the young man has gone into hiding with the underage girl. There has been no leadership in this regard from the more educated community which is busy making more money by ‘showing’ adherence to the style of culture – all with the help of lawyers who make a business out of law while their villages are burning.
The more money profit we make out of legal work, the less we invest in Justice through that system and its positions. So why go to Courts that do not have the moral authority to deliver judgment? We need to try by going there. But once we know the limits – we need to stop expecting particular outcomes as per our investments. That way, to the extent we have invested more in the law than the court system, we would strengthen the value of Justice in that system. Those who have invested less, need to stay and ‘home’ and not overburden the system.