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Possibility of speedier justice



A boon awaits the harassed litigants of this country in the form of the Criminal Procedure Special Provisions Act, which will be taken up for debate in Parliament in May.

Under the provisions of this Act, the Attorney General would be enabled to indict directly in the High Courts, those accused of serious offences, rather than go through the time-consuming and laborious process of conducting non-summary proceedings in respect of the crimes in the Magistrate's Court.

In terms of these provisions, offences such as rape, premeditated murder, violations of the law carried out with fire arms, for instance, could be considered grave crimes, necessitating trial in the High Courts directly.

Accordingly, the administration of justice is likely to be quickened under the contemplated law, cutting down on trial time and reducing Law's Delays.

As is known, Law's Delays constitute one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the effective administration of justice in Sri Lanka. Since justice delayed is justice denied, Law's Delays could in no way be excused, although the litigating public has been compelled to shoulder this painful weight, for numerous reasons.

Under the upcoming law, however, the possibility exists of speeding-up the process of delivering justice and, thereby, enhancing public confidence in the country's institutions of justice.

Public confidence in the judicial process is an important factor in the maintenance of law and order and in the sustaining of the Rule of Law.

It is crumbling faith in the institutions of justice which compels volatile sections among the public, for instance, to take law and order into their own hands, bypassing law-enforcement agencies. Such situations, pose grave threats to even a country's democratic institutions.

Therefore, the possibility of administering justice speedily needs to be welcomed. We could be certain that even the judiciary would welcome the new Act on account of the possibility it holds out of reducing the backlog of cases awaiting clearance.

This too has been a principal worry of the judicial authorities in that their workload has proved almost interminable. They could now look forward to better times on this score.

We hope that the comparatively quick disposal of criminal cases would have a salutary impact on the law and order situation in Sri Lanka. It is widely recognised that prolonged delays in the dispensing of justice have had the effect of multiplying crime.

This is on account of the sense of assurance the offender has that he wouldn't be brought to justice quickly. The result is an escalation of crime. Besides, public outrage is great that criminals are not brought to book swiftly.

Hopefully, there will be less heart-burn on this score, in future.