The Judicature Amendment Bill which aims to set up a permanent High Court-at-Bar to expedite cases of large scale corruption and financial crimes will be tabled in parliament today (9th). Health Minister Dr.Rajitha Senaratne said the bill will be presented to the parliament with the amendments suggested by the Supreme Court.

Addressing the media yesterday at the Government Information Department, Minister Senaratne said that the election manifesto of the Yahapalana Government had promised to enforce the law strictly against those found to be corrupt in the previous regime and punish them.“The main objective of setting up the special court is to speed up the hearing of cases involving large scale of fraud and corruption in the country,” he said.

Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorala said that the Act was scheduled to be presented to parliament on March 6, but several petitions challenging this Bill had been filed before the Supreme Court claiming that the clauses of the said the Bill violates certain articles of the Constitution. The Supreme Court (SC) determined that three Sections of Judicature (Amendment) Bill are inconsistent with the Constitution and need to be passed by a two thirds majority in Parliament.

The SC has determined that Sections 12 A (1), 12 A (2) and 12 A (7) are contradictory with the Constitution. She said Section 12 A (1) of the Bill deals with the setting up of the Permanent High Court-at-Bar, and the nature of cases to be taken up in it.“The Supreme Court determined that section 12A(1) of the Bill is inconsistent with Article 154 P(3)(a) of the Constitution and an amendment is required to be made to the Constitution to give effect to section 12A(1) of the Bill.” she said.

She further said that amending section 12A (2) of the Bill requires the Judicial Service Commission to nominate judges to the permanent High Court at Bar. This is inconsistent with article 154(P)2 of the Constitution and an amendment is required to be made to the Constitution to give effect to the section 12A(2) of the Bill which requires a two-third majority. The amending section 12(A)(7) is inconsistent with Article 12(1) of the Constitution. However, if the Chief Justice is given the power to decide whether to hold a trial at Bar or not this amending section will cease to be inconsistent.

Refuting the allegations by various groups claiming that the purpose of establishing this special High Court was for political revenge, Minister Athukorala said the present government has ensured the independence of the judiciary through the Judicial Services Commission. “There is no need to set up new courts to take political revenge. If we want to take political revenge, we can do it by following the footsteps of the previous regime like how they took political revenge from former CJ Shirani Bandaranayake and Gen.Sarath Fonseka,” she said.

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