Sri Lanka's Supreme Court makes a historic decision

 January 21, 2024

An in unprecedented decision, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has unanimously invalidated a presidential pardon. 

The Jurist reports, "Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court invalidated on Wednesday, for the first time ever, a presidential pardon to former member of Parliament Duminda Silva."

Who is Duminda Silva?

Silva is a Sri Lankan politician who used to be a member of the country's parliament. More to the point, however, is the fact that Silva has been sentenced to death for murdering another Sri Lankan politician.

The man who was murdered is Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra. He was one of Silva's chief political rivals.

According to News 18, at trial, it was found that Silva and his bodyguards murdered Premachandra and three of his supporters in a public gunfight.

Per the outlet:

Silva was convicted of murder after a shootout in the capital Colombo between rival factions of Rajapaksa’s party in 2011, while he was a member of parliament. Former lawmaker Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and three of his supporters were killed in the gunfight by Silva and his bodyguards.

After being found guilty, Silva and the other suspects were given the death penalty.

The pardon

The death penalty, these days, is rare in Sri Lanka. As the result of a moratorium, the last time that an execution was carried out was in the 1970s. This is not what saved Silva, however.

Rather, according to Jurist, following his election victory in 2019, Sri Lanka President Gotabaya established a presidential commission to investigate political victimization, and it was this commission that conducted an investigation and recommended that Silva ought to be released.

In response, Rajapaksa, in June 2021, pardoned Silva.

Invalidating the pardon

Now, Sri Lanka's top court, in a unanimous decision, has invalidated the pardon. The justices essentially found that there was no legitimate basis for Rajapaksa to pardon Silva.

The justices, in their decision, wrote:

I have no legal basis or even a factual basis to uphold the decision made by the former President to grant a pardon to the recipient in the instant case. I hold that the said decision is arbitrary, irrational and has been made for the reasons best known to the former President.

Accordingly, Silva's death penalty conviction has been reinstated.

This is the first time in the country's history that its top court has invalidated a presidential pardon. Some believe that this decision now will open the door to the invalidation of more presidential pardons.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
© 2015 - 2024 Conservative Institute. All Rights Reserved.