The first case to be taken up by the three-judge bench of the Special Trial at Bar decided today, to hear the case filed by the FCID against Gamini Senarath, who was former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's chief of staff and Piyadasa Kudabalage, the former chairman and managing director of the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC), decides to hear the case daily, beginning from the 29th of October. They are charged with misappropriating SLIC funds by investing millions of rupees in various ventures including the Grand Hyatt Hotel project using the investments of Grand Hyatt, Colombo.
Several senior state counsel from the Attorney General’s Department will appear for the prosecution while the respondents have retained a team of President's Counsel and senior lawyers.The Trail at Bar comprises senior High Court judges Sampath Abeykoon, Sampath Wijeratne and Champa Janaki Rajaratne.
The court will sit in the morning and in the afternoon to expedite the hearing. Two more similar High Courts are also in the pipeline to hear other major frauds and crimes which are alleged to have taken place during the past 10 years.
Commenting on the reason that led to the government setting up the special High Court at Bar, Justice Minister Talatha Athukorale told the Cabinet that though a circular had been issued to judges by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) directing that trials of more than five years old to be held daily, it was observed more in the breach.
At the end of 2015, there were some 16,960, cases pending in the High Courts countrywide while the number of pending cases pending at the end of 2016 was 16,463, the number of pending cases as at September 2017 was 17,565.
The minister said laws delays have to be remedied resulting in an amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure Act to make it mandatory to hold trials in the High courts, except in exceptional circumstances and for good reasons which have to be recorded.Accordingly, the section 263 of the Criminal Procedure Code was amended to make daily mandatory.