Aug 21, Colombo: The three-member Special High Court, which will pave the way to expedite trials of large-scale crimes and bribery and corruption cases, opened this morning under the patronage of the Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms Thalatha Atukorala.
The Ministry of Justice officially also handed over the Special High Court to the Judicial Service Commission today. Following the handover the Chief Justice will be in charge of the Special High Court.
The Judicature (Amendment) Bill enabling the establishment of the three-member High Court to hear large-scale crimes and bribery and corruption cases passed in parliament with a majority vote on 9th May. The Speaker signed the bill on 18th May enacting the Act.
The first Special High Court would hear cases daily to expedite the proceedings. It will comprise three, 3-member panels of judges appointed by the Chief Justice. Powers have been vested in the Chief Justice to decide which cases to be heard and on appointing the judges. Two other similar High Courts would be set up soon.
The offences which can be tried by the Special High Court include bribery, breach of confidence, financial misappropriation, financial misuse, money laundering for terrorism, organized crime, and misuse of public property.
The rulings of the new High Court can be appealed to the Supreme Court directly.
The first case to be heard at the Special High Court will be the case against former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's Chief of Staff Gamini Senarath and three others for misusing public funds by illegally investing Rs.4 billion from the Rs.18.5 billion approved by the Cabinet for a hotel project in 2012.