The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) is presently pursuing the possibility of a greater role for the Court of Appeal, sitting as in assizes and for the Court’s total manpower to be centralized to ensure consistency and uniformity.
President of the BASL, President’s Counsel Geoffrey Alagaratnam said that there have been criticisms, some which were perhaps valid, in that conferring appellate powers on High Courts had not produced the desired effects.
“This has stemmed from the lack of uniformity, consistency and efficiency in standards between different High Courts,” he observed.
The question is often posed whether these Appellate Courts are as it were individually doing their own thing with no concern for judicial comity and consistency and also a consequent wastage of the taxpayers’ money, he remarked.
He noted that there was a need above all to ensure collegiality amongst judges as the quality of justice was extremely dependant on how judges relate to and conduct their official functions in coordination with each other, adding that one could not let one’s personal differences or idiosyncrasies obstruct the duty to dispense justice or colour one’s acts in the discharge of one’s official functions.
“Maybe the Court of Appeal today, consequent to the establishment of the High Courts for hearing civil appeals in the Provinces, has lost its pristine status, glamour and glory. Perhaps there has also consequently been a significant reduction in the workload of the Court of Appeal. We are also painfully aware of the inundating of the Supreme Court with copious applications, consequent to the orders of various High Courts of the Provinces sitting in appeal. Aspiring to do the right thing by studying one’s brief and considering arguments adduced rather than taking any short cuts is essential for judges. One must be committed to one’s functions in the judicial office both in attitude, in efficiency and practicality,” Alagaratnam mentioned.