National Law Week 2007/2008:
Legal awakening for social justice
A large gathering at the second National Law Week Exhibition
A display of the digital technology in the Colombo District
Digitally displayed case lists
Case lists manually displayed
Nihal Jayamanne, PC
'Legal awakening for social justice' in a scenario where litigation
has taken the better of society; their time and more precisely exhausted
them of their assets was an apt theme awakening people to their legal
rights and privileges guaranteed them by the Constitution and other laws
of the country as the Bar Association of Sri Lanka held its second
National Law Week 2007/2008.
Legal aid clinics rendering their services to the public by
facilitating advise free of charge were set up at the exhibition at the
Faculty of Law, University of Colombo last Saturday which was patronized
by a large gathering of members of the judiciary, lawyers and the public
who took time off to make it a meaningful exercise.
'Lawyers have been living out of the public for generations. Thus,
there is a social responsibility on the part of a lawyer to give back of
their services to the public and educate them of their duties and make
them aware of their rights.
The commonly asked questions by many people still are on Fundamental
Rights issues. Their perception is that they have to go behind a person
for their 'right'. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has been fulfilling
this obligation over the years and this should necessarily be supported
by the private sector if the country is thinking in terms of 'an
educated population so that contracts will not be broken.
People should be educated and have a basic knowledge of simple issues
like 'how to make a complaint to the Police or a Court of Law and have a
basic knowledge on Human Rights', expressed President of the Bar
Association of Sri Lanka, Nihal Jayamanne, PC.
Meanwhile, Lalanthi Kumari, Legal Officer in charge of the Migrant
Workers Unit, Legal Aids Commission expressing her opinion said most
complaints were received after having faced a problem.' The Legal Aids
Commission does a lot of work on awareness island wide on women's and
child rights, rights of elders, migrant workers and Human Rights.
They even provide legal assistance to people on matters such as
divorce and maintenance, land appeals and Fundamental Rights whose
monthly income is below Rs 6,000. Such persons are required to get the
certification of the Grama Sevaka in order to avail themselves of this
service . For those seeking assistance from the Legal Aids Commission,
applications could be obtained at their Office at Hulftsdorp throughout
the week from 9-4.30 pm' she revealed.
Meanwhile, the crisis centre with six hospital centers to its credit
which works tirelessly around the country to protect women and children
who are subject to violence, the Women-in Need (WIN) centre at 122 Cotta
Road Borella was also represented at the exhibition for those seeking
psychological counseling and other legal services.
WIN is an organization which offers services to the public free of
charge and is opened on weekdays from 9 am-5 pm and on Saturday and
Sunday from 9am- 12 noon with a 24 hour Hotline 4718585.
Awareness is important and assistance is available to any one who
seeks our advise to reverse situations in the lives of women and
children for better, said Executive Director(WIN), Savithri Wijesekera.
Spanning a long history, The Bar Association of Sri Lanka and the
judiciary have come a long way as the Colombo District Court 1, the
Commercial High Court and the Kandy District Court now boast of
introducing modernized technology via a very comprehensive system in par
with the courthouses in Singapore and Hong Hong .
The Court Automation Project, the brainchild of Chief Justice, Sarath
N. Silva and project of the World Bank has today replaced the age-old
manual system of recordings by the steno typist with state-of-the-art
digital recording enabling video conferencing facilities to those
overseas who are unable to come over to Sri Lanka to have their evidence
recorded at a given time.
'A hundred per cent accuracy is assured with this state-of -the -art
technology, District Judge Colombo and President of the Judicial
Services Commission, Justice Sisira Ratnayake told the Sunday Observer.
Justice Sisira Ratnayake is the first judge to avail himself of the
digital technology and tracking system which he says is a major
advancement in the annals of our judiciary system.
The new system also helps reduce laws' delays as the entire
proceedings could be viewed on a large screen or on the computer screens
placed in front of the lawyers which helps make alterations
instantaneously in the event of an error.
The stenographer is no longer required to sit in the court room;
proceedings could be viewed from the Control Room where it is voice
recorded whereby the stenographer could listen to and even play back the
record to record the proceedings of a case accurately.
With the introduction of digital technology in these fully air
conditioned court rooms, case lists are also now being displayed
digitally outside the court room alongside the manual board which does
the same function which is still being used as a back up device; yet
another step in the direction of minimizing laws' delays and other
shortcomings', Justice Sisira Ratnayake explained.
The State today according to statistics has under 300 judges and 24
High Courts , 23 District Courts, 36 District/ Magistrate courts, 46
Magistrate Courts and 14 Civil Appeal High Court island wide. 'Faced
with this reality it has become necessary that we move towards
advancement and state-of-the-art technology to reduce laws' delays and
ensure social justice to all.'