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Backlog of cases is perennial problem, laws delay must be solved without compromising quality of justice: AG

Dappula de Livera 700 01
Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, has observed that the backlog of cases is a perennial problem. It has to be addressed urgently and quickly, methodically and efficiently and to deliver speedy justice and prevent Laws delays without compromising the quality of justice.

He made these observations delivering an address at the ceremonial sitting of the Court of Appeal to welcome Justice Yasantha Kodagoda as President of the Court of Appeal.

During his address, Attorney General Dappula de Livera said:

“It is my privilege to welcome Your Lordship Justice Yasantha Kodagoda as the President of the Court of Appeal at this august assembly.

Having received Your Lordship’s Primary and Secondary Education at Ananda College, Colombo and being an outstanding Student and Senior Prefect, Your Lordship entered the Sri Lanka Law College in 1985 and was called to the Bar in 1988 as an Attorney-at-Law, and no sooner joined the Attorney General’s Department as a State Counsel in 1989. Your Lordship were promoted Senior State Counsel in 1999 and Deputy Solicitor General in 2005. In 2015, Your Lordship was appointed Additional Solicitor General and took silk as President’s Counsel in March 2015.

In 1998, Your Lordship obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Forensic Medicine from the University of Colombo and in 2002 Your Lordship proceeded to the United Kingdom to read for a Masters of Law Degree of the University of London at University College London and obtained an LLM in 2003.

Since 1999, until Your Lordship’s elevation, for 20 years, Your Lordship functioned as Supervising Officer in the Attorney General’s Department and in 2017 was handed over the supervision of the all important cases investigated by the Criminal Investigations Department.

During Your Lordship’s career in the Attorney General’s Department, Your Lordship had attended several International Training Programmes, Conferences and Seminars on different legal subjects, abroad which are far too many to mention here.

Your Lordship has also presented several papers on legal topics at International and Sri Lankan Conferences and published articles in many Law Journals.

Your Lordship functioned as the Attorney General’s Counsel in the Commission of Inquiry in the assassination of politician and actor Vijaya Kumaranatunga, the Batalanda Torture Chamber which was known as the Batalanda Commission and the Inquiry into serious violations of Human Rights which was also known as the Udalagama Commission and the recent Inquiry into the Issuance of Treasury Bonds known as the Bond Commission.

Your Lordship has also served as a member of several Government delegations to the UN Human Rights Council and other fora and served as a member of a number of Government Committees and functioned as Legal Advisor to Law Enforcement and to the Financial Intelligence Unit and other Government bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission which is again is far too many to mention.

From 2005 – 2010, Your Lordship was the Director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at the Sri Lanka Law College and a Visiting Lecturer to the Sri Lanka Law College, Kotelawala Defence University and Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies, the Police Higher Training Institute, Sri Jayawardenepura University, the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine and CIABOC.

One of Your Lordship’s recent notable assignments has been the designing of a comprehensive Training Curricula and the training of Junior Counsel recruited to the Attorney General’s Department.

Your Lordship served the Attorney General’s Department with distinction, dedication, and commitment for nearly 30 long years. Your Lordship was no doubt, always a valuable asset to the Institution.

The wide and extensive experience Your Lordship has gathered as a Counsel and Legal Advisor at the Attorney General’s Department for nearly 30 years will no doubt stand in good stead and enable Your Lordship to shoulder Your Lordship’s new role and responsibilities with confidence and ease and spearhead the court to serve the aspirations of the people in delivering speedy quality justice and upholding the rule of law.

Looking back at Your Lordship’s decision to take up judicial office and move from the role of Counsel to Judge, I would say it is timely as Sir Winston Churchill said; “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak: Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen” and more importantly to the position of President of the Court of Appeal in the context of the prevailing Law and Order situation in the country where there is serious threat to National and Public Security and Public Safety, where Democracy and its very Institutions are at risk of peril. Your Lordship’s entry to the court will strengthen and embellish and fortify the quality of justice delivered by the Court and be seen as a beacon of hope in the restoration of the Rule of Law in our Motherland in time to come.

I must emphasize that Your Lordship is well qualified and richly deserves to adorn this exalted office. It’s unique that Your Lordship’s appointment as President of the Court of Appeal was followed by the appointment of the Attorney General as Chief Justice which is the first in the history of Judicial Appointments where both positions have been filled in quick succession from the Attorney General’s Department.

Now the task is daunting, the challenges are innumerable. The country is in a state of public emergency where there is derogation from the General Law of the land and Fundamental Human Rights and the Rule of Law must be upheld and restored quickly and Law and Order maintained at all costs.

Human Dignity is at the core of Humaneness. Your Lordship’s Court will play a pivotal role in the whole restorative process and I must say that it is a big challenge but still surmountable.

Your Lordship is now bestowed with the onerous task of administering justice in the Court of Appeal.

The backlog of cases is a perennial problem. It has to be addressed urgently and quickly, methodically and efficiently and to deliver speedy justice and prevent Laws delays without compromising the quality of justice.

As for the Criminal Appeals a good cursus curiae should be created. There should be consistency and uniformity in approach. There ought to be a strict sentencing regime created for serious crime in order to instill fear of crime and deter society. There is a cry for the re-imposition of the death penalty today. This will not be necessary if there is a uniform and consistent strict sentencing regime in place in all the courts in the country.

Lord Denning once said:

“Punishment is the way in which society expresses denunciation of wrong doing; and in order to maintain respect for the law, it is essential that adequate punishment is inflicted for grave crimes and should adequately reflect the revulsion felt by the great majority of citizens for them. It is a mistake to consider the objects of punishments as being a deterrent or reformative or preventive and nothing else….The truth is that some crimes are so outrageous, that society insists on adequate punishment, because the wrongdoer deserves it, irrespective of whether it is a deterrent or not”.

Law and Order is in crisis today and that is mainly due to the reason that the criminal justice system has failed to deliver adequately and face up the challenges faced up by society. This is not the moment to elaborate on this. But I should say that Laws Delays is one of the main reasons for this system failure.

This issue has to be addressed by Lordship’s Court urgently and holistically. The Bench and the Bar have to get together to solve this problem.

I wish to assure Your Lordship the fullest cooperation in this endeavor and all other endeavors by Your Lordship’s Court to deliver quality justice to the people of this country.

At a time, the depression had hit America, like an earthquake destroying lives so totally, that the people had lost self-confidence, a man of power and vision, President Franklin Roosevelt who was crippled since 1921 when he contracted polio and lost the use of both legs, won the Presidential Election by a majority of 12 million votes winning 42 States against 6 and he took oath and addressed millions of Americans listening to their radios. This inaugural speech on 4thMarch 1933, was one of the turning points in American history, where he articulated:

“Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honour, on sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and unselfish performance. Without them they cannot live. Restoration calls not for changes in ethics alone. This nation asks for action and action now. Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. There is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously”.

With this thought, may I wish Your Lordship a successful and fruitful tenure in this office, excellent health and happiness.”






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