Stop this frivolity | Daily News

Stop this frivolity

SJB Parliamentarian Patali Chamapika Ranawaka is the latest to add his name to a long list of politicians who mysteriously fell sick and got themselves hospitalized when the long arm of the law was closing in on them. MP Ranawaka who has been arraigned before Court in a case where he is allegedly to have grievously injured a youth while recklessly driving his motor vehicle, failed to appear before Court when the case was called on Tuesday, and, instead, submitted a medical report through his counsel asking leave for a six-month period, while getting himself admitted to a private hospital.

The Attorney General prosecuting the case called into question the validity of the medical report with Senior Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Pieris bringing to the notice of the Court that the MP was seen appearing hale and hearty only the previous day in Court talking animatedly with his lawyers when the Appeal Court case filed by the MP pleading to be relived of the charges against him was dismissed by Court.

The Bench then ordered the JMO to visit the private hospital where the MP is being treated and submit a proper report on the latter’s actual health condition. It was noted by the Judge that the medical report was a handwritten one issued by the doctor treating the MP and did not adequately explain the MP’s health condition for which he was apparently being treated.

We are here not commenting on the merits or otherwise of the case but only wish to highlight the mockery made of the process of the law by the shenanigans of politicians of all hues when pushed against the wall. As is all too well known this is not first instance where a politician made use of the loopholes in the law to stymie the enforcement of the full force of the law, through ill-health or hospitalization. Politicians have turned this into a fine art. Whenever a top politico or VIP is delivered a prison sentenced by the Court, the next one hears about him is that he is lying at the Merchants’ Ward as a result of a mysterious ailment, although while leaving the Court he is filmed by TV cameras smiling and raising his manacled hands to the cheers of his supporters in a display of false heroism.

As the Senior Deputy Solicitor General observed how a man who only moments before looked the very picture of health and robustness could suddenly develop a serious ailment warranting his hospitalization should be the subject of a probe involving independent medical experts. Sri Lanka could well be in line in for creating medical history by way of a major medical breakthrough in ascertaining the mechanics of how a healthy individual suddenly transforms himself into an ailing vegetable en-route to prison or when ordered to appear for Court hearings.

This type of conduct where the judiciary is sought to be taken for a ride by acts of frivolity should be brought to an end once and for all. Nobody should assume that he/she is above the law.

The judge has quite rightly called for the JMO’s report on the MP’s condition, in the process setting a benchmark to be followed by all Judicial officers in the future when medical reports submitted before them appear to be suspicious. What of the integrity of the medical profession in this whole exercise? We will soon be hearing from the JMO about the genuineness of the medical report issued for the MP. What if this turns out to be a bogus one? Will the doctor concerned be made to answer for what after all will be tantamount to a fraud?

What of the other medical reports issued before this covering other politicians where VIPs who appeared all smiles before the cameras were deemed struck with serious ailments no sooner they boarded the Black Maria? All such medical officers who issue questionable medical reports should be taken to task and their licenses cancelled. It is also an insult to the Hippocratic Oath.

Such sleight of hand acts will also bring dishonour to the entire medical profession. Moreover, such acts are tantamount to trifling with the law and an attempt to make the judiciary a laughing stock. In fact, if found guilty of misrepresentation, the politicians concerned should be tried for Contempt of Court.

What about the whole concept of ‘One Country One Law’ that is being earnestly pursued? Will an ordinary prisoner have the luxury of being whisked to the prison hospital only moments after being sentenced? While ordinary prisoners are made to serve their entire sentences behind bars doing hard labour, certain VIP convicts spend their prison time in luxury hospitals with care and attention by family members.

This inequality and injustice should be removed and all treated alike if the ‘One Country One Law’ concept is to have any meaning. The Minister of Justice should consider taking a serious view of this whole business. The Judiciary should in no way be allowed to be trifled with through any form of sleight of hand.

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