JICA scandal: BASL members urge removal of potentially implicated office bearers 

Thursday, 30 May 2024 00:04 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



  • Emphasise importance of maintaining BASL’s moral authority and public trust
  • Underscore significance of ethical leadership within BASL and request probe into potential breaches of professional ethics
  • Urge BASL Management and Executive Committees to enforce temporary resignations, to protect association’s reputation

A group of legal professionals yesterday called for a sweeping investigation into alleged financial irregularities within the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL).

In a letter to the five-member Inquiry Committee investigating the JICA project scandal, the group including ten President’s Counsels and over 80 Attorneys-at-Law, demanded that any BASL member potentially involved step down from their positions for the duration of the inquiry.

Their concerns stemmed from accusations that five members of the BASL including its President Kaushalya Nawaratna PC had misappropriated funds earmarked for an anti-corruption initiative funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). JICA had reportedly allocated Rs. 21 million for the project, with allegations claiming that at least Rs. 19 million were pocketed by the accused. 

In the letter the group underscored the paramount importance of transparency and accountability. The signatories urged the committee to conduct an exhaustive investigation, meticulously examining all details to ensure a comprehensive and objective report grounded in evidence.

However, the core principle emphasised in the letter was the preservation of BASL’s moral authority and public trust. The legal professionals believed that any BASL member potentially involved in the misuse of funds must step down during the investigation. This decisive action, they argued, was essential to upholding impartiality and ensuring a fair and unbiased inquiry.

The letter further emphasised the importance of ethical leadership within BASL. It highlighted the association’s responsibility to conduct impartial inquiries into allegations of professional misconduct, reminding them that the public, and particularly the Supreme Court, relied on BASL’s unwavering commitment to upholding the highest ethical standards.

Beyond the investigation itself, the signatories had urged the committee to probe potential breaches of professional ethics by the implicated individuals. They requested that any such findings be incorporated into the final report for the Bar Council’s consideration.

The letter called on the BASL Management Committee and Executive Committee to take all necessary steps to enforce the recommended temporary resignation of potentially involved members, underscoring the gravity of the situation and the need for decisive action to safeguard BASL’s reputation.