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Special Assignments Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama would present a Cabinet Memorandum to constitute a Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) with powers to take punitive actions against big time financial crimes, frauds, corruptions and misuse of funds to the Cabinet today (7). Minister Amunugama told the Daily Mirror yesterday that the Attorney General (AG) has studied the draft proposal sent by the Cabinet earlier and advised that the enactment of the CJC required a two thirds majority in Parliament and a positive vote in a referendum in terms of the Constitution. “The draft proposals submitted by the Cabinet for a Criminal Justice Commission Act envisage meting out punishments to persons found guilty after inquiry by the CJC.

The comments made by the AG will be incorporated in the Cabinet Memo as the Government is satisfied by the comments made by him,” Minister Amunugama added. However, if the Supreme Court rules that the provisions of the draft Act were in conformity with the Constitution and required only a two thirds majority, the Government would not go for a referendum, he said. Minister Amunugama said the Cabinet would further discuss the Cabinet Memo and try its best to obtain a two thirds majority in Parliament and defer the conducting of a referendum. A fair number of Ministers have favoured the establishment of a CJC to punish those responsible for frauds, corruption and misuse of funds and14 Ministers had already pledged their support and placed their signatures on the Joint Cabinet Memorandum. 

The CJCs will try those accused of financial crimes after the findings of law enforcement agencies like the CID), FCID and the Special Crimes Investigation Unit (SCIU), which functions under the Department of Police. However, the Central Bank bond scam will be excluded from the CJC inquiry as it is being investigated by a Commission of Inquiry appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena. The first ever Criminal Justice Commission was established during the late Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s regime in 1972 to investigate the abortive insurgency of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) of April, 1971. However, Premier Bandaranaike had to repeal the CJC Act later due to heavy pressure and hence, the necessity for a new Act to set up the of new CJC. The Joint Cabinet Memorandum titled “Tribunal to Inquire into Corruption” signed by 15 Ministers had 19 points. Among the UNP and SLFP Ministers, who have signed the Joint Cabinet Memorandum besides Sarath Amunugama are: W.D.J. Seneviratne, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Rajitha Senaratne, Mahinda Amaraweera, Susil Premajayantha, Kabir Hashim (Who is also General Secretary of the UNP), Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Talatha Athukorale, Faiszer Musthapha, Chandrani Bandara, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and Arjuna Ranatunga.

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