Rule of law demands equality, justice, law-abiding Govt
of integration among diverse perspectives, while the rule of politics seems tied to significant fragmentation within the polity.
There is no question that the rule of law is, nevertheless, rightly regarded as being the foundation of any democratic society. But the rule of law is meaningless if there is no access to justice. It is pointless to be granted rights if you have no way of enforcing them.
Some generally agreed principles of access to justice are that: laws should be accessible, clear, precise and open to public scrutiny people should only be punished for crimes set out by law and not simply by the discretion of the state, the judiciary or otherwise courts must be accessible, affordable and cases should be heard without excessive delay all people should be treated equally unless objective differences justify otherwise there must be a respect for human rights and, of course, the state must abide by both its internal laws and its international obligations. Not only should there be access to justice, but there must be adequate access to justice, in the sense that there be a fair and independent court system and the citizens must be realistically able to utilise it.
When I was a law student, I was very soon introduced to ' the man on the Clapham omnibus'. That reasonable, very average, person who first made his appearance in Lord Justice Greer's judgment in the 1932 case of Hall vs Brooklands Auto-Racing Club.
Say we were to explain to him the concept of the rule of law. His reasonableness would undoubtedly lend itself to agreeing with the concepts behind it -equality, justice and a state limited by law.
And then, say, we explained the current situation.
And then, let's suppose, we ask our reasonable man -- who by this time has likely got off the bus and begun hurriedly walking away -- whether he believes we live under the rule of law? I expect he may say that unequal access to justice has the same effect as inequality before the law. Inequality before the law is not sustainable at all.
I am reminded of what US Supreme Court Judge Brennan said in 1956:
' Nothing rankles more in the human heart than a brooding sense of injustice. Illness we can put up with, but injustice makes us want to pull things down. When only the rich can enjoy the law, as a doubtful luxury, and the poor, who need it most, cannot have it because its expense puts it beyond their reach, the threat to the existence of free democracy is not imaginary but very real, because democracy's very life depends upon making the machinery of justice so effective that every citizen shall believe in the benefit of impartiality and fairness.'
Therefore, the challenges facing the student of law today are enormous, it is exciting as well and enticing too. Great careers are there to be built.
But a great career can only be achieved through perseverance, commitment, and a passion for excellence in all that you do.
Excellence encompasses qualitative aspects such as a positive attitude, team spirit, critical thinking skills, values, innovations, governance and leadership.
Dear graduands, it is not how good you are, it is how good you want to be.
The ultimate goals one sets in life are important. Goals are of course for you to choose, but in choosing them remember values and morals are important. Other normative principles should be derived from them.
The generous citation read out as ‘the cause’ for the honour bestowed on me today, is a lifetime achievement.
A great and fruitful career is within your reach, only if you choose to learn from the experiences of those who have gone before you.
Recall Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s words from “A Psalm of Life” “Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime And departing, leave behind us, Footprints in the sands of time.” Footprints are made at different levels and vary in scope and intensity.
This takes place at the school level, in institutions of higher learning and in the larger community.
The University of Colombo, the oldest university in the island is a good example of an institution that has produced men and women who have made sufficient footprints in the sands of time. Men and women who have transformed the lives of individuals and shaped the society for better by investing in the skills of the younger generation and in being pivotal in driving long term growth.
It remains the responsibility and obligation of the university to make sure that footprints be made and that they stand the test of time. The older institutions are themselves growing larger with respect to student enrolment and staff deployment. New institutions are coming on board with greater financial resources. The end result is a challenge to maintain good quality in teaching and research. It calls for greater commitment and devotion. The university should be the heart that pumps new life into the society and the country at large.
By all accounts I am happy to recognise that the University of Colombo is meeting the challenges of intellectual and institutional promotion of teaching and research in admirable ways under the leadership of senior professor Lakshman Dissanayake, the vice-chancellor.
K. Kanag-Isvaran, P.C. delivering the convocation address