03 August 2022
THE CARDINAL’S UNJUST DISCRIMINATION
Presidential immunity is being tested again in Sri Lanka. Article 35 (1) of the Sri Lankan constitution provides as follows:
[35. (1) While any person holds office as President, no proceedings shall be instituted or continued against him in any court or tribunal in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by him either in his official or private capacity..]
This, to my mind, places a ceiling on not only the powers of the Judiciary, but also discourages citizens from using the judiciary to intimidate the President. All discretionary powers, whether they are allowed by the written law or not, need to be used after conscious consultations with one’s conscience.
As per Daily Mirror report:
[The application made by President Ranil Wickremesinghe that he be discharged from the proceedings in connection with the twelve Fundamental Rights petitions filed over Easter Sunday attacks should be dismissed by Supreme Court, Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said.
In terms of precedence, my mind recognizes the Navaly Church bombing on 09 July 1995. Then the President was Madam Kumaratunga. According to Wikipedia:
[The Church of St. Peter and Paul in Navaly (also spelled Navali) on the Jaffna Peninsula was bombed by a Sri Lankan military aircraft on the afternoon of 9 July 1995…. It is estimated that at least 147 civilians, who had taken refuge from the fighting inside the church, died as a result of this incident. The victims included men, women and children……
On 11 July, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga released a statement that expressed "sorrow at the loss of lives" and ordered the investigation of the bombing. On 18 July 1995, the military confirmed that the church was badly damaged but said that they could not confirm the origin of the bombs that destroyed it. In 2020, Kumaratunga admitted that it was an Air Force bombing, albeit a mistake, and claimed that she had criticized the Air Force for it at the time...... According to Daya Somasundaram, a professor of the University of Adelaide, the church was well away from the fighting. He termed this attack a war crime committed by the Sri Lankan Air Force.]
I am yet to see any further action – especially through Courts, being taken by the Church in this regard.
As stated previously, a position, like a place, also accumulates ‘karma’/ heritage -be it positive or negative. Positions are the accumulated minds of those who provided or received services in an institutional structure. Hence, common laws are based on positions and not individuals.
This brings to mind, the discussion with a young Australian who argued that ‘individuality’ was better than institutional structure. My belief is that the institutional structure regulates pathways whereas, de facto partnerships based on individuality tend to promote scattering of Energies. Hence disintegration of rebel groups – armed or unarmed.
In terms of institutional structures, when the individual in a position provides service at higher level than is required by the position, the individual accumulates positive karma through the position. This is shared with the position. When that individual’s successors/heirs in that position, consider themselves to be ‘juniors’ of that person and/or the consolidated position, they invoke that person’s/position’s mind, as happens in the use of ‘case-law’. This is often referred to as ancestral power. It cannot be ‘given or taken’. It comes when the senior blesses and/or the junior believes in the senior and/or the position.
Similarly, when a person does less than is required in the position, the person carries negative karma and shares it with the position.
In the Navaly bombing the responsibility was the President’s and Madam Kumaratunga failed in her lawful duty to either resign or openly punish the officials concerned. LTTE – the de facto government in North literally took an ‘eye for an eye’ in December 1999, when they tried to kill her. Sadly the lady lost vision in one eye. On behalf of the Tamil community, I mentally said ‘sorry’ to the lady when I met her over Tsunami Reconstruction Proposal in 2005. Now I continue to ‘feel’ sorry from time to time.
The LTTE for its part, damaged the leadership value of Northerners. Tamil leaders are yet to publish their own ‘judgment’ of this action by the LTTE.
Likewise, Muslim leaders in the case of Easter Bombings.
By actively seeking punishment for those who neglected their duties that resulted in the Easter Bombings, without questioning the parallel perpetrators of Navaly Church bombing Cardinal Ranjit is demonstrating different measures used within the same religious community.
For his part, if Mr Wickremesinghe ‘avoids’ responsibility, he would further weaken the heritage of the position of President. This is likely to rob him of reminiscing positively after retirement.