There is a saying that the delay in justice is similar to injustice. The delays in Sri Lankan courts raise the question how far the justice is delivered through them.
A father who came to our office related a distressing story of a child abuse case that delayed for ten years and an appeal on the guardianship of the child that dragged for three years. Mount Lavinia Magistrate Court is hearing two cases related to this issue and another is in Appeal Court.
The person is a father of one child who divorced from a short-term marriage. According to the verdict, the guardianship of the child was given to the mother but the father was retained the right to see the child and keep her with him half of the school vacation.
In 1998, when the child was four years old, he lodged a complaint in the child protection police regarding abuses against the child by the mother of the child and her parents. A case was filed against the child`s mother and grandmother in Children`s Court and the judge ordered to follow the instructions of Mount Lavinia District court pertaining to the guardianship of the child.
In April 1999, the father filed a petition in Mount Lavinia District Court. The verdict is delivered after six years on February 01, 2005. He later petitioned to the Court of Appeal that the district court not only refused guardianship of the child to him but also reduced the time he could keep the child with him.
On the petition he filed at the Court of Appeal on March 04, 2005, he says that the district court has not given priority to the child`s well being. The petition was granted levae to proceed, the explanations in wring were held on October 28, 2005, and verbal expalanations were held on January 16, 2006. However, the date of the verdict is still indefinite.
Meanwhile the Child Protection Authority filed a case on December 24, 2007 against the child`s mother in Mount Lavinia court against deliberately injuring the child and the next hearing of the case is fixed on May 19.
When the judiciary proceedings pertaining to the abuses against the child by the mother and the grandmother were commenced, the child was four years old. Now she is 14 years old. The father laments that during this period of ten years the girl was physically and mentally abused under the legal guardianship.
We cannot express ideas on a case that is being examined by a court. However, it is clear that the delay in justice in this sensitive issue is similar to injustice.