Sarath case descends into farce

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 01 December 1999, 18:34 GMT]
A judge must not hear a case against him is a sacred maxim. It holds equally true that a judge must not nominate judges to hear the case against him, President's Counsel Ranjith Abeysuriya told the Supreme Court today.

He was addressing the Supreme Court in support of the three petitions challenging the appointment of Sarath N. Silva as Chief Justice.

sarath_silva_2-p.gifMr. Abeysuriya continued that though the case in issue is against the Chief Justice, under the constitution it is the Chief Justice who is empowered with the authority to nominate judges.

In such a context, the Chief Justice should act with caution. The concept enshrined by the 'Justice should not only be done, but also appear to be done is a concept' should be safely guarded.

The selection process of judges has led to speculation whether there the procedure is fully impartial. Such speculation is detrimental to the institution of the judiciary.

The Chief Justice should have selected the judges on the basis of seniority, but happened to look for the judges who are appointed.

Thus ensued the following dialogue:

Court:- Why should you bother to know who the judges are?

Counsel:- To be successful, a lawyer ought to know the judge, before whom he was going to appear.

Court:- Why?

Counsel Judges are also human beings. They have their own slants Lawyers have to address the judge accordingly to persuade them.

Court:- It is unfair to make such comments. Judges have receptive mind and are prone to persuasion.

Mr. Abeysruiya added that the number of judges appointed to hear was another matter of complaint. In view of the seriousness of the issue, there ought to have been the maximum number of judges possible. But in this case the number was seven.

He went on that the judges had not been selected on the basis of seniority. He said that this case has aroused interest all over the world, so much so that the international Bar Association has sent a representative as an observer, he concluded.

The Bench comprised Justices S.B.Wadugodapitiya (Chairman), Priyantha Perera, S.B.G.Wijetunge, Shiranie Bandaranayaka, D.P.S.Gunasekera, S.H.Weerasekera, and Ameer Ismail.

Ravaya Editor Victor Ivan, Sunday Times Deputy Editor Rajpal Abeynaike and A.Jayasekera are the petitioners in the case.

A further hearing has been postponed until February 7, 2000.

 

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