SRI LANKA: The need to protect the integrity of the Judiciary & Lawyers who work to uphold the Rule of Law

A Letter from article from Mr. Nagananda Kodotuwakku, Attorney-at-Law ( SL) and Solicitor( UK) and public interest Attorney, on 09th November 2017, to the Bar Association of Sri Lanka forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission


The Secretary
The Bar Association
No 153, Mihindu Mawatha Colombo 12

09th Nov 2017

The need to protect the integrity of the Judiciary & Lawyers who work to uphold the Rule of Law

I write further to my letter dated 3001 October 2017, which is yet to receiv any response and regret the inability of the Bar Association to meet its primary objectives, which include the protection of the judiciary against intimidation and interference by the other organs of the government and also safeguarding of the lawyers who strive hard to uphold the rule of law.

It is noted that due to sheer negligence of the professional body of lawyers, the Bar Association, the government recourses to ignore the sovereign rights of the people and to enact laws at its will, whilst dishonest elements occupying office in the Executive and the Legislature pay no respect or regard to the judiciary. The best example is the despicable way the Legislature and the Executive recently disregarded the determination of the Supreme Court against the postponement of the Provincial Council elections and achieved their ulterior motives through unlawful means with a scant respect to their Constitutional obligations.

The Association disregards its mission to defend the members in the profession, who take tremendous risks in exposing the corruption-riddled Legislature, Executive and some members of the Judiciary, at a time a large number of MPs, Cabinet Ministers and several judges in the Supreme Court have been charged for corruption with irrefutable evidence presented to the Commission to Investigate Allegation of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC). And due to the blatant failure on the part of the CIABOC (manned by three Commissioners who are retired judges) to discharge its duty, several cases have now been filed in the Supreme Court with a request made for the issuance of mandatory orders against the CIABOC, compelling its Commissioners to perform their legal duty.

It is also observed that in the absence of a proper regulatory mechanism, a substantial number of dishonest lawyers continue to be in the profession causing a tremendous damage to the members at large who are committed to uphold the rule of law in keeping with their Constitutional Oath.

I am quite aware that while a lawyer as a citizen has a right to criticize public officials publicly, if

he is certain of the merit of his complaint, criticisms motivated by reasons other than a desire to improve the legal system are not justified. Further that lawyers are not merely “officers of the court” in a legal or theoretical sense they, in the public eye are knowledgeable, professional spokespersons whose seemingly authoritative comments are accorded greater attention than statements of any other observers.

I believe that lawyers have a duty to be courteous to those in the profession. But to suggest that standards of civility should somehow override a greater duty to scrutinize judiciary and fellow members of the bar, however, is an act of misbehavior or deceit.

As many prominent judges have stated, there can be no patriotism without permanent opposition and criticism and as lawyers, its our duty to remain vigilant in our critical self-examination and protection of our judicial System.

In the final analysis it is noted that due to the dismal failure of the Association to protect the fearless judges and the lawyers who fight against the corruption, they have become targets of intimidation, hindrance, harassment and threats whilst those honest lawyers are compelled to face professional restrictions being imposed upon them.

In this backdrop, I have decided to contest the election of office of the President of the Bar Association with a firm objective of addressing the major concerns of the general membership of the Association and the people. And therefore, I once again request the nomination papers and contact details of the membership, as I intend to alert them all about the serious issues faced by the legal profession in Sri Lanka and also of the dire need of electing the President of the Bar Association with a greater participation of the membership and not with a mere 20% of the registered members.


Nagananda Kodituwakku 
Public Interest Attorney 
Attorney at Law & Commissioner for Oaths


The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect that of the AHRC.