Sri Lanka : Remand prisoners in more than 500 cases were granted bail by High Courts around the country while Magistrates have bailed prisoners in over 1000 cases on April 3 and 4, judicial sources revealed.
Despite curfew, on the direction of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), court sittings were held on April 3 and 4–a last two days prior to the court vacation– specially to hear bail applications. The move, on a circular issued by JSC on March 30 was carried out mainly to ease the congestion in the prisons which are on the threat of spreading Covid19 epidemic.
Two High Courts in Colombo were functioned to entertain bail applications and suspects in over 50 percent of them were granted bail, the sources revealed.
“Even in other High Courts around the country suspects in over 50 percent of bail applications have been granted bail,” a spokesman related judiciary stated.
The judicial source also revealed a large number of bail applications filed on behalf of drug kingpins who tried to obtain bail using the opportunity were rejected.
On Thursday, senior officers representing the Attorney General made applications before Colombo High Courts to cancel court sittings on the two days. The applications were made subsequent to an appeal made by Attorney General Dappula de Livera to Chief Just Jayantha Jayasuriya PC. The AG had requested to cancel court sittings on April 3 and 4, as there would be a threat of spreading Covid 19 among those attending courts including both attorneys representing the private bar and those representing the AG.
Senior Additional Solicitor General Sarath Jayamanna PC and Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris had made applications on Thursday morning before High Court judges Manjula Tilakaratne and Adithjya Patabendige to cancel court sittings. The senior officers from the AG’s Department also had informed court that some of the lawyers would try to get bail for the high profile drug traffickers by misleading the courts.
However High Court judges had refused applications stating that the judges were acting on the directives of the JSC, headed by the CJ who is also the head of the judiciary. They also responded that appeal for bail within legal framework was a basic fundamental right of any remanded suspect. Judge Patabendige has also stated that High Court judges were not babies and they have the maturity to consider each and every bail application and consider a judicial order.