(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – It has been decided to maintain the Ministry of Justice in the current building and not to relocate as previously planned.
Accordingly, steps are being taken to create other alternative suitable locations for the expansion of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, the Ministry of Justice said in a press release.
The Ministry of Justice states that nearly 800,000 cases have been filed in courts islandwide and plans are afoot to resolve them within the next five years.
It is reported that a speedy and efficient program is being implemented to increase the number of judges in the courts and the relevant sub-committees have already been appointed.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry was removed from its existing building and relocated to the World Trade Center for a period of two years to facilitate the expansion of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
The statement further says that the Ministry of Justice has decided to continue in the existing building after several rounds of discussions.
Following is the statement in full:
Shifting the Ministry of Justice to a respective venue for supplying space required for the expanding Supreme Court complex
The requirement for making the justice system in Sri Lanka and its process of dispensation of justice more efficient as well as productive to the people of this country has become a crucial matter of consideration lately more than ever.
The people have been gravely inconvenient due to the unbearable number of court cases of approximately eight hundred thousand (08) stagnated within the judiciary of this country for a considerable period as a whole and even within the Prisons too such a congestion has been created.
It is a critical situation to have approximately eight hundred thousand (800,000) court cases piled in the entire judiciary throughout the island comprised of approximately five hundred thousand (500,000) cases in the magistrate’s court, more than two hundred thousand (200,000) cases in the district court, more than twenty five thousand (25,000) cases in the high court, approximately seven thousand five hundred (7,500) court cases in the civil appeals court, more than four thousand (4,000) cases in the appeals court and approximately five thousand (5,000) unsolved court cases in the Supreme court by the end of the year 2019 throughout the island.
Special attention of the present government has been drawn to this issue and has implemented an accelerated and efficient program by the Ministry of Justice aiming to increase the number of courts considerably within the next five years and increase the number of judges in the courts accordingly. Whereas, the processes required to appoint relevant sub – committees have already been inaugurated.
The government has taken numerous steps for accomplishing this extremely difficult goal of converting the dispensation of justice process more efficient and productive to the public while the 20 amendment to the Constitution has increased the number of justices for the Supreme Court and appeals court by another 14 in number.
Accordingly, an emergency requirement has been erupted for establishment of new court halls, supplying official rooms for judges, record room facilities, and other related services as well as the applicable spaces required for the activities in the supreme court and appeals court and for the requirement of the newly appointed judges.
Considering the undue pressure and effects caused to the activities of the honorable judges, the court staffs, activities of the court registrar’s office, lawyers and the public as a whole due to establishment of the Superior court complex in a respective place unnecessarily dismantling the Superior court complex to parts for the sake of supplying relevant facilities, resolutions and opinions from the superior courts complex management board and judicial reforms commission was forwarded with regard to obtaining the premises in which the Ministry of Justice is situated as a remedy and utilize the same space for judicial activities.
Accordingly, the relevant parties understood at the endeavors of finding possibilities of implementing the so forwarded resolutions and opinions, that the best option at hand was to establish the Supreme Court and the Appeals court within the Ministry building and to shift the Ministry of Justice to another suitable venue.
Ministry of Justice being a large institution comprised of 350 employees, is implemented under 17 affiliated institution to the Ministry. It is compulsory that the Ministry of Justice should be situated adjoining the Department of Attorney General, Department of Legal Draftsman, Judicial Reforms commission, Bar Association and the courts complex.
Therefore, no other remedy was apparent other than to shift the Ministry allowing the prevailing building to be accommodated for judicial activities as a source for accomplishing the improvement expected to within the judicial system in the next few years and the relief intended to be granted for the public although eviction of the Ministry of Justice from its present venue causes problematic circumstances.
The venue and the building where the Ministry of Justice is situated is the best place for the relevant Ministry while the building caters the ease of access for the lawyers, judges and the public, as well as for access to other affiliated institutions. However, to provide a more productive service to the public with a broad intention, the Ministry of Justice was intended to be shifted to a venue in the world trade Centre where the accommodation facilities are lesser than 50% of the prevailing space at the current venue after considering all the other optional proposals.
However, the Ministry of Justice is scheduled to be shifted to the premises at the ‘Adhikarana Niwahana’ (Judicial Home) to which initial constructions are conducted and expected to be completed in the future and it was expected to establish the ministry at this temporary venue only for two years until the construction project is completed. Especially it was expected to reduce the piled – up court cases, ensure convenience of the public, enable the project digitalization of the judicial system that is created as an action of adjusting to emergency situations as well as the amendment of age – old rules and regulations / laws and to implement programmes for navigating the country towards development targets.
Furthermore, the fact that a huge amount of additional finance is spent to accomplish the accommodation facilities required with the expansion of activities of the Supreme Court and the Appeals Court too was considered at this juncture. Therefore, it was decided to station the entire Ministry of Justice in the World Trade Centre paying rupees 9.8 million as the monthly rental.
However, it is apparent that some people with narrow intention misinterpret this unpolluted attempt by highlighting unwanted facts without understanding the content of that and not investigating into the matter that was to be performed with benevolent intention of providing a productive service to the public by carrying out judicial activities in the existing building after the Ministry is temporarily shifted to a building space of 35,000 square feet for a short period of two years.
The unsuccessful attempts and gossips created pointing out unnecessary facts instead of assisting when programs for the citizens are carried out with the intention of creating a country with a vision should be condemned with regret.
Followed by the above situation, and conducting several rounds of discussions, actions are being taken to take necessary measures required for finding a remedial venue for expanding the Supreme Court and the Appeal court while the Ministry being operated within the same building complex.