A senior judge, overtly critical of the government, is the latest victim of a daylight attack , in what appears to be to send a chilling message to detractors.

According to police, Judicial Services Commission secretary Manjula Thilakarathne was assaulted by unidentified men in suburban Mount Lavinia on Sunday. It did not appear to be an act aimed at killing him.

He was rushed to a hospital and is stable. The Commission comprises Judges from the Supreme Court and the secretary, who is routinely a senior High Court judge. The role of secretary is critical in the functioning of the judiciary. The Courts and the government have not been on the same page on a range of issues.

The husband of the Chief Justice was implicated in another case recently, in what some members of the bar claim, was an attempt to buy the judiciary’s cooperation. A senior Government Official, however, held that merely because a person is related to a senior judicial functionary he or she could not be exempted from the purview of law.

Soon after the incident, President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered the Police Chief to arrest the assailants. Sensing an opportunity to cash in, Army-Commander-turned-politician Sarath Fonseka visited the Judge. Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem, who is a critical go-between for the Government with more than one problem constituency, also visited the judge.

Meanwhile, in an urgent executive committee meeting, of the Judicial Services Association of Sri Lanka has “unanimously decided for all the judges of the minor judiciary to keep away from the normal duties on October 8 as a mark of protest on the attack of the Secretary”. It will also hold a special general meeting on October 9 to decide on the future course of action.

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