Who is hiding files of Rajapaksas in AG’s Department?
The Attorney-General’s Department disappeared from the Gazette notification in the lists which were in the Gazette relating to the respective ministries, when the ministers were sworn in after the 2010 general election. When the media inquired about it from then Justice Minister John Seneviratne, the minister said he too was searching where it was located in the Gazette notification. But John was unsuccessful in all attempts to locate the AG’s Department in the Gazette. Alas! President Mahinda Rajapaksa had taken it under his purview. That was the first time the AG’s Department which functioned under the Justice Ministry was plucked out to be placed under the Chief Executive. ‘
When Mahinda grabbed the AG’s Department, the incumbent Attorney General was Mohan Peiris who was appointed by Mahinda. Mohan had earlier served the AG’s Department and joined the unofficial bar, after retirement. Mahinda appointed Mohan as AG outside the normal procedure overlooking and undercutting many qualified seniors. This was done contravening the provisions of the 19th Amendment where the Constitutional Council enjoyed the privilege of making that appointment. Mahinda, who undermined the 19th Amendment and the Constitutional Council to the status of dogs, overlooked the much senior person Priyasath Dep and appointed Mohan Peiris in 2008. In 2010, Mahinda wanted the AG’s Department, with Mohan Peiris, under his purview.
That was the beginning of the prostitution of justice with the ‘sacred dove of justice’ (AG’s Department) being abused. This reality became visible as the AG’s Department under Mohan Peiris was used to attack Sarath Fonseka in an unjust manner and the people realized why Mahinda took control of that Department. It was in such a backdrop that the Supreme Court held that the Military Court which punished Fonseka and unseated him from Parliament was a Court of Law. Mohan Peiris was the AG when that happened in January 2011 under Mahinda’s regime. The AG’s Department filed action against Fonseka during that period. Mohan held the office of AG till September 2011 and Mahinda appointed Eva Wanasundera to succeed Mohan. All petitions filed by Fonseka against the determinations of the Military Court which tried him, were declared invalid during Eva’s period as AG. Having left the office of AG, Mohan was appointed as a Legal Adviser to the Cabinet Office. When Eva ended her period as AG, she was made a Supreme Court Judge by Mahinda. Eva was succeeded as AG by Palitha Fernando. He was succeeded by Yuwanjan Wijeyatilleke.
After Mahinda took control of the AG’s Department, the public lost confidence in that establishment of justice. Following Mahinda’s defeat at the 2015 presidential election, the AG’s Department was placed under the Ministry of Justice. Though attempts were made to right serious wrongs committed by Mahinda, the Mahinda loyalists within the AG’s Department disregarded the mandate of the people at the 2015 presidential election. The people gave a mandate to Maithripala Sirisena against the corrupt rogues. That was the priority in the list given to Maithri. On the contrary, JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake alleged that the AG’s Department under Yuwanjan protected the rogues instead of trying them before the law. That claim was supported by Minister Rajitha Senaratne. Anura Kumara once told Parliament that the AG’s Department under Yuwanjan held two views over the need to arrest Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the Avant Garde deal and later Yuwanjan’s successor Suhada Gamlath who acted in that office held that Gotabaya could not be arrested. The truth of that position was not clear.
Rajitha once accused that the Attorney General and Suhada Gamlath were behind the move to suppress the Avant Garde probe and allow the proprietor of Avant Garde to travel overseas. Suhada Gamlath left the AG’s Department to take up the position of Secretary to the Justice Ministry, another appointment made by Mahinda. It was no secret that Mahinda ignored the Justice Minister and ran the Justice Ministry via Suhada Gamlath. During the period Yuwananjan was AG and Suhada was Acting AG, the Maithri-Ranil Government submitted 37 cases through the FCID for necessary advice. The AG’s Department acted only on eight cases. The fate of the remaining 29 cases is yet unknown. Wimal Weerawansa’s wife was arrested for an alleged passport fraud on 23 February 2015. The AG’s Department has failed to act on that case for nearly one year. She was finger printed recently as if the AG’s Department had suddenly woken up.
The Defence Ministry was the strongest ministry during Mahinda’s regime as the survival of Mahinda’s Government depended on the war situation. The Justice Ministry and the AG’s Department are the strongest organs of the Maithri-Ranil Government. The survival of this government depends on the ability to net in the rogues. The Maithri-Ranil Government should now assess how far Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe is qualified to be the Justice Minister as the latter is against the arrest of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. When rogues are protected,
the government becomes unpopular before the people who voted it to office. It is similar to the belief that if Mahinda lost the war he would not have been re-elected by the voters in 2010. The people lost confidence in the previous regime because of the inaction of the AG’s Department. The exit of Yuwanjan Wijeyatilleke is a blessing for this government. The refusal to recognize Suhada Gamlath even belatedly was a wise move by the government. The challenge before the new AG, Jayantha Jayasuriya, looks tougher than the challenges faced by the Tri-Forces Commanders during the terrorist war in 2009. It is a fact that there were two camps in the AG’s Department during Yuwanjan’s stewardship. The ‘upper camp’ got the files upstairs to act swiftly. The ‘lower camp’ hid files on fraud and corruption to sweep those under the carpet.
The new AG has got an opportunity to clean up the ‘lower camp’ to proceed ahead to ensure justice. The people have only to say, ‘Rogues are before you dear son, for necessary and early action’.