High Courts without Judges worsen PTA accused woes

[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 February 2003, 17:38 GMT]
The Eastern High Court which has jurisdiction over two districts, Batticaloa and Trincomalee, is without a permanent High Court Judge or an acting judge since second week of December last year holding up bail applications in murder cases and Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) cases forcing accused to be kept on remand and without any relief from high court, legal sources said.

The present judge Mr.A.N. Ramachandran went on three months leave in December last year preparing for his retirement on March 25, legal sources said.

Every working day accused and litigants appear in court given by the former judge on earlier dates. But now court staff give new dates stating reason that no new High Court Judge or an acting judge has been appointed so far, legal sources said.

"We do not know whether a new judge would be on the bench when you come on the next date," is the usual reply given by court staff to litigants and accused, sources said.

PTA accused are brought to high court under heavy security from Kalutara and other prisons on the stipulated dates and taken back by the prison, sources said.

Majority of the PTA accused are charged solely on their confession. If a judge is appointed these accused could easily get their discharge as at present the Attorney General withdraws all PTA cases which solely depend on confession by the accused, generally assumed to be obtained under threat of force or torture, legal sources said.

The Kumarapuram massacre case in which nine soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) were indicted by the Attorney General with the murder of about 22 Tamil civilians of Kumarapuram in the Muttur area in 1996 is also listed for hearing on February 19. This case comes for trial after six years. Whether the inquiry in the Kumarapuram murder case would commence on the said date is very doubtful, legal sources said.

 

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