Abuse of political power led to Judges resignations, says State Bar

[TamilNet, Thursday, 09 February 2006, 00:01 GMT]
The resignation of two Senior Judges of the three-member Judicial Commission (JSC) of Sri Lanka, has caused shock and alarm within the legal community, civil society and trade unions in Colombo. The resignations, reported on the eve of Sri Lanka's 58th anniversary of gaining Independence, were due to the "simmering state of discontent prevailing for some time within the Judicial Service Commission," said Desmond Fernando, President, Bar Association of Sri Lanka, addressing a press conference in Colombo Wednesday. The JSC which has authority over the appointment, transfer, dismissal and discipline of the judiciary, is rendered non functional with the resignations, he added.

Legal, Civil and Trade Union representatives address press in Colombo
Desmond Fernando, President, Bar Assosiation of Sri Lanka, addressing the press at OPA building in Stanley Wijesundara Mawatha, Colombo


"We of the Bar have witnessed with disgust, pain of mind and a deep sense of anguish the rapid and continuing erosion of the values of Justice and fair play in the country. To us, the latest development represents the final blow to all the concepts that we hold dear in the Administration of Justice," noted Desmond Fernando in his address to the press in Colombo.

Meanwhile, Karu Jayasuriya, the Deputy Leader of the United National Party (UNP), the main Opposition in the Sri Lankan Parliament, in a statement to the press on Wednesday said that the Judges, in their own words, had stated that they were 'not being able to hold the posts according to their conscience.'

Jayasuriya said the development further confounded the "existing problems due to the non functioning of the Constitutional Council, Public Service Commission and the non establishment of the independent Election Commission as stipulated by the constitutional amendment."

Mr. Jayasuriya further charged that ruling party politicians, who were intent on restituting their influence over the public service, were exerting pressure on the Mahinda Rajapakse's Government, forcing it to engage in dangerous undemocratic exercise.

Justice Dr. Shiranee Bandaranayake, the most Senior Judge of the Sri Lankan SC and Justice T. B. Weerasuriya, the most Senior Career Judge in the SC, had submitted their resignations last week.

The JSC, established according to the 17th amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution, is given authority over the appointment, transfer, dismissal and discipline of the judiciary. It is headed by the Sri Lankan Chief Justice, who is joined by two Supreme Court judges, appointed by the SL President.

The resignation of the two senior Judges is the "culmination of the abuse of power and office," Fernando said adding that their resignation has brought into disrepute the working of the Judicial System in Sri Lanka.

The Press Conference, organised by eleven organisations, was chaired by the President of the Bar Association, at the Organisation of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka (OPA) building in Stanley Wijesundara Mawatha in Colombo Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

Six representatives of the organisations addressed the press with Desmond Fernando.

"We of the Bar believe that the cause for their resignation has arisen from within and not from outside the Judicial System," Fernando noted.

The 11 organisations that had called on the press at the OPA building were: Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Organization of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka, Editors' Guild, Free Media Movement, Transparency International, Foundation for Co-existence, Anti War Front, Sri Lanka Railway Trade Union Federation, Sri Lanka Teachers' Association, People's Bank Officers' Association and Health Department Professional Front.

 

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