Rule of Law replaced by ‘Rule by Law’: Eran

MP Eran Wickremaratne charged yesterday (06) that the Rule of Law had been replaced by the ‘Rule by Law’ by the government as it was arresting people on various charges at the whims and fancy of the Executive. 

“When a suspect is remanded, he or she is deprived of the basic human rights. Though the releasing of a person on bail is a judicial act, today we wonder whether the judiciary has the fullest authority under the due process of the law. In the bailable offence, reason is needed not to give the bail. In a non-bailable offence, reason should be shown by the suspect as to why he should be given the bail. But in practical these two circumstances have been abrogated unto their hands by the executive action in order to victimize the persons they target. In this case the Rule of Law is replaced by Rule by the Law in selective cases,” he said. 

He made these remarks while addressing Parliament during the debate on the Bail Act amendment. 

He also pointed to the arrest and detention of Hejaaz Hisbullah in connection with the investigations into the 2019 Easter Sunday Attacks. 

“For example, in the case of the arrest of a lawyer Mr. Hejaaz Hisbullah, it was the government which decided to arrest him under the Rule by Law where the government invoked the provisions of the now draconian Act of PTA. Now there is no need to have such a draconian Act. That is why our government made the initiative to replace the PTA with some other provisions. Usually when the police or the CID is making an arrest of a person they go by the prior evidence. The police in the arrest of Hejaaz Hizbullah had said there was evidence that he had had conversations and connections with the terrorists involved in the Easter bomb attacks. How can the police say that it has evidence to prove a telephone conversation without the prior permission from a magistrate to obtain such records? Now it is almost one year since his arrest and since then the police or the CID has not been able to serve indictment. That is because it clearly shows that the arrests are made at the whims and fancy of the rulers and the B report is filed under an act to deny them the bail. When Hejaaz was arrested, he was not given the opportunity to exercise his right to confidential legal access. No charges were framed and he is detained not under the judicial process, but the Executive intervention by an order given by the Minister of Defence.” 

Wickremaratne also accused the Attorney General Dappula de Livera PC of maintaining double standards when it comes to arresting politicians. 

“We have reports that the AG is giving contradictory directives to the police when it comes to arrests of politicians at his whims and fancy. The AG directed the IGP to arrest and file actions under the Public Property Act against MP Rishard Bathiudeen. But when it came to the former Defense Secretary, also under the same Act the AG had opined to the SC saying there is no need to arrest him when the former’s FR was taken up in the Apex Court. This double standard maintained by this government with regard to the judiciary is unprecedented with the unnecessary intervention by the police and the AG’s Dept.” 

He added that when the government gave promises of system change, the people were under the impression it would uphold the rule of Law and not rule by Law.