Democracy Continues, Sri Lanka Style...
Abuse of political power led to Judges resignations
says Sri Lanka State Bar
[TamilNet, February 09, 2006] 9 February 2005
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.
"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
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
"We of the Bar believe that the cause for their resignation has
arisen from within and not from outside the Judicial System,"
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.