Jan 20, Colombo: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says a special high court will be set up to hear fraud cases and the functions of this court will commence within the next two months.
The Premier made these remarks addressing a public rally in Homagama on Friday in support of the United National Party candidates for the upcoming local government elections next month.
Speaking at the rally, the Prime Minister said people are questioning the government why rogues are not being caught. Catching the culprits is one thing but bringing them to justice is challenging as there are not enough courts or resources.
He said the court cases have been filed against culprits in some cases and in some other cases the documents have been prepared. He pointed out that it takes two months between hearings of a case and as a result, it takes about five years to conclude a case.
Whether there are witnesses or not, it is difficult to drag a case for five years. For the appeals court it takes 2-3 years to resolve a dispute, and cases are being forwarded to the Supreme Court as well, he said.
The quickest court case takes eight years to complete, sometimes up to 10 year, the Premier noted. "This is a time easting exercise," he added.
In the High Court cases are being investigated by a panel of three judges. The court appearances have to be conducted daily to enable to complete hearing of court cases within a month or two.
H pointed out that there is only one appeal court and sometimes the cases are directed to the Supreme Court and the hearings take one and a half years to complete. The Maximum limit is three years.
The Prime Minister said the Minister of Justice Thalatha Atukorala has prepared new legislation, The Attorney General has power to take charge of police documents and file cases.
"We have now prepared the law to remove the obstacles to punish the corrupt. Therefore, there is a possibility that the thieves can be punished.
"We have not confined this affair of taking legal action to one side. If there are allegations after coming to power, we have told to file cases against the responsible parties. Because of the steps taken by us punishing the corrupt has been expedited."
The Attorney General's Department has set up a separate unit after conducting discussions with the relevant authorities. Accordingly, the cases are being accepted by themselves. The police has been involved in the procedures to investigate about 80 cases and 19 of them have already been filed by the Attorney General. A law has been enacted to implement the process of court hearings.
With the receipt of the second report of the presidential commission last Monday, 34 court cases have to be investigated by February and March. This would enable to investigate all cases which the Prime Minister hopes to do under this program.
He said that the government will look into the fact whether cases on frauds and corruption are being heard under the supervision of rhe government.
A committee has been appointed on the bond issue and parliamentary commissions have also been set up in this connection. This demonstrates the fact that the program of chasing after fraudsters has commenced, the Premier said.