New Court system for corruption and fraud offences soon

The establishment of new High Courts to hear corruption cases will be introduced to the country very soon, a reliable source has revealed.

The framework for the brand new anti-corruption court has been finalized by the Legal Draftsman and awaiting final approval from the Cabinet of Ministers this week before draft legislation is made to be tabled in Parliament, it said.

The Government laid the groundwork for the establishment of a dedicated High Court of Sri Lanka to conduct trials related to complex financial crimes and corruption in November 2017.

The Cabinet paper submitted by Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorale proposed that the new High Court would be dedicated to hear cases relating to bribery, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation, money laundering, terrorist financing, organized crime and offences against public property. Minister Athukorale’s proposal was approved and the Cabinet of Ministers instructed the Legal Draftsman to draft legislation to set up this special High Court under Article 105 (1) (c) of the Constitution.
The new proposed High Court will consist of three benches of judges, comprising three judges each. Judges will be nominated by the Chief Justice. Under the new proposed legislation, cases may be referred to the High Court by the Chief Justice on his own motion, considering the nature of the offence and in the interest of justice, or on the request of the Attorney General. Judgments made by the new proposed High Court will be afforded one appeal to the Supreme Court.

Reports concerning 17 cases of serious fraud and corruption that had taken place during former regime compiled by the Presidential Commission to Inquire and Investigate into Serious Acts of Fraud and Corruption (PRECIFAC) and dozens of other investigations completed by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) are awaiting prosecution. Public frustration has been mounting at the snail pace of investigations and delays to prosecute into excesses and abuses by the former regime.