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Over 4,000 cases pending before Court of Appeal

In his maiden speech at the ceremonial sitting held last Monday at the Court of Appeal (CA), newly-appointed CA President Yasantha Kodagoda PC stressed the importance of law enforcement, and that military responses were carried out strictly in terms of the law; that such measures were proportionate to the envisaged harm and were enforced in good faith and with due diligence.

Kodagoda was the Additional Solicitor General before he was sworn in as the 47th President of CA in the presence of President Maithripala Sirisena on 28 March.

In his speech, he explained the importance of the identification and apprehension of all those responsible for the Easter Sunday terror attack that killed more than 250 people by the Police and tri-forces.

“It would be important for the Attorney General to advice the Police to bring detained suspects before courts of law as provided by law and for the Attorney General to expeditiously and successfully prosecute them, so that they could be punished through judicial pronouncements made in terms of the law,” he added.

Elaborating the possible reforms that would be carried out by him in the system of administration of justice, Kodagoda said that consideration would be given for the enactment of a constitutional amendment to enable a serving Supreme Court judge to be appointed to sit and function as the President of the CA for a fixed term of three years.

In addition, highlighting the number of pending cases before the CA, Kodagoda said” “As at 1 January 2018, 4,923 matters had been pending in the Court of Appeal for adjudication.

During the year 2018, 1,473 new matters were instituted and relisted in this court.”

During 2018, 2,345 matters had been concluded, he said, adding that therefore, as at the commencement of 2019, the total number of pending matters came down to 4,051.

“Of these matters, there are a number of matters that are over 10 years old. Nearly 40% of the matters had been instituted over five years ago,” he said.

“It is now time for us in the legal fraternity to cause the implementation of practical solutions to the problem of laws delays,” Kodagoda added.

As a solution to the caseload and delay in concluding the cases, he proposed the cadre of judges of the CA be increased by a meaningful number.