A notorious underworld character who is being investigated by the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) for widespread drug peddling has been made a Justice of the Peace.
Lal Peiris aka Kudu Lal was sworn in before the Colombo Magistrate on Friday. His appointment was made by the Justice Ministry on nomination by Deputy Minister Mervyn Silva.
'Yes, I recommended him,' said Silva, when asked about Kudu Lal's new qualification. 'You can write that. I am a servant of the people and I can do as I want. It's my duty and my responsibility.'
Silva said he had received police and a grama niladhari reports certifying that Kudu Lal was a good citizen. Asked which police and which grama niladhari had compiled those reports, Silva replied: 'Why should I tell you that''
He also claimed that there was nothing wrong with Kudu Lal's appointment because he had never been convicted and there were no pending court cases against him.
PNB sources confirmed that there were no pending cases against Lal Peiris but said his name had figured widely in several high profile drug investigations. 'He is undoubtedly a well known drug dealer although we don't have sufficient evidence to fix him,' a senior police officer said. 'We have information and intelligence about his activities.
His closest associates are also underworld characters.'
One of Kudu Lal's best friends is Prince Column, who is currently in prison for murder.
Lal is also a money lender and recently opened a restaurant in London with his vast earnings. He and a Reserve Police Inspector of the police communications division were injured earlier this year when a grenade exploded inside the RSI's private vehicle, which was parked outside Amaravati Restaurant in Kollupitiya. They were preparing to leave after dining together when the bomb went off. The RSI was later suspended from the police service and Peiris' statement had also been recorded.
Justice Minister W. D. J Seneviratne said Lal's application was not handled directly by him. 'A separate unit in my ministry, headed by an assistant secretary, goes through all applications for the position of Justice of the Peace,' he explained. 'They examine the necessary documents and I sign the gazette after they approve the appointments. It is not practical for the minister to study each application.'
Seneviratne said his ministry had insisted on police and grama niladhari reports for the appointment of JPs.
'However, I can strip a person of his JP status if he is subsequently found unsuitable or does not conform to required standards,' he asserted. will ask the relevant unit in my ministry to inquire into whether this person is suitable for the post.'
'If their report confirms ineligibility, I will not hesitate to strip him of his JP status,' he said.
Under the present system, parliamentarians and provincial council members can nominate persons for the position of JP. There has been no recent head count but it is estimated that there are now thousands of JPs in the country. Political sources confirmed that Mervyn Silva had recently taken away several application forms. It is not immediately clear who else he has recommended for the position of JP.
'It is not the first time that criminals or suspected criminals have been rewarded by politicians,' commented former Senior DIG (Crimes) H. M G. B Kotakadeniya. 'Politicians want criminals to gain recognition in society because then they can get their dirty work done.'
Edited By - Damed - 11 Mar 2012 00:06:02 GMT