SRI LANKA: Lawyer under threat call upon the Bar Association of Sri Lanka to intervene 

We refer to our earlier statement of October 18, 2006, SRI LANKA [AS-254-2006]: “Show cause notice on lawyer Elmo Perera has no basis in law and is an attempt to silence critical voices among the legal fraternity pursuing public interest issues:. The AHRC is in receipt of the complaint filed by Mr. Elmore Perera to the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), asking the BASL to intervene in his case. While the decision of the BASL on this request is awaited, the AHRC is forwarding the copy of this letter for your information and intervention.


FCMA., Dipl. PMD (U. Conn), TREND (U. Conn), CSSI,
Former Surveyor General, Former Addl. Director, SLIDA,
Founder Director, Christian Children’s Fund, Sri Lanka,
Former Chairman, Sri Lanka Scout Council,
Former Chairman, Salvation Army (SL Territory), Advisory Board,
President, Habitat for Humanity, Sri Lanka,
Vice President. Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance,
Vice President, Organisation of Professional Associations,
Chartered Management Accountant, Chartered Surveyor,
Attorney-at-Law & Notary Public,
Commissioner for Oaths.

144 Vipulasena Mawatha,
Colombo 10, Sri Lanka.
Tel: 94 11 2687102, 2694389.
Fax: 94 11 2687102

20th October, 2006
Nihal Jayamanne PC,
President, BASL,
153, Mihindu Mawatha,
Co1ombo 12.

Dear Sir,

SC Rule No. 1/2006, SC Application No. 108/06 (FR) and related matters

01. I was born and bred in Galle and had all my school education at Richmond College, Galle where the “values” imparted by 3 Methodist Missionary Principals viz. Rev, J.H. Darrell, and Rev. W.J.T, Small (respectively 24th and 7th Wranglers in Mathematics at Cambridge University) who had amongst their pupils C.W.W. Kannangara and Silva, (who later changed his name to P. de S. Kularatne) and Rev. A.A. Sneath (also an eminent Mathematician) planted and nurtured in Victor L. Wirasinha (your father-in-law) and multitudes of others including me, a zeal to help others who were placed in less privileged circumstances and were in need of help.

02. After I retired at the age of 58 years, I completed my Law College exams in November 1991, apprenticed under Mr. H.L. de Silva, PC, and was enrolled as an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court on 19th November, 1992 having sworn before the then Chief Justice (also a Richmondite) to uphold and defend the Constitution to the best of my ability.

03. Faced with several options as to which Profession or Professions I would practice, I opted to devote my time to the “Legal Profession” which was then commonly called the “noble profession”, particularly because I truly believed that my propensity to “always say the truth even if it hurts” which had invariably caused me problems, could never be faulted in any Court of Law.

04. As Secretary of the OPA in 2000/2001, 1 was largely responsible for the drafting and promotion of the OPA proposals for the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

05. I was nominated by Mr. H.L. de Silva PC (who was the President’s nominee in the Constitutional Council) and also by Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe (then Prime Minister) for appointment to an Independent Commission. I was nominated to the Election Commission, but the said Commission was never appointed.

06. Realising the tremendous potential that existed to develop the Law College as a first rate Training and Education Centre in the field of Law, I applied for the post of Principal of Law College. At the interview on 27.9.2005 Hon. Nihal Jayasinghe immediately asked me “Mr. Perera, Who will fight for the under dog if you are appointed to this post?” I replied that I did not see it as a barrier to my continuing to do so. Thereafter Mr. K.C. Kamalasabeyson P.C. who chaired the interview panel, stated that the Council of Legal Education could not afford to pay me more than the advertised sum of Rs. 40,000/- per month and I responded that this was not a problem because I did not receive that much, per month, any way.

07. Sometime in January 2006 1 became aware that Hon. Shirani Bandaranayake J. and Hon. T.B. Weerasuriya J. had resigned from the Judicial Service Commission citing matters of conscience.

08. Representations made to the JSC by the Bar Council re the flagrant abuse of judicial authority by a Junior Judicial Officer to harass and humiliate Mr. Suraweera, a reputed Lawyer of the Matara Bar with over 33 years standing, had apparently fallen on deaf ears.

09. In a distressingly significant departure from the practice that prevailed Justice Nihal Jayasinghe was sworn in as Acting Chief Justice on 9.2.2006 overlooking the undisputed seniority of Hon. Shirani Bandaranayake J. and Hon. T.B. Weerasuriya .

10. On 22.2.2006 when Ms. Maureen Seneviratne, the first woman PC with legal career of over 50 years sought the indulgence of Court to mention her case which involved the JSC and would therefore not be heard by His Lordship the Chief Justice who was Chairman of the JSC, His Lordship the Chief Justice had flown into a rage, apparently lost his temper and shouted at Ms. Seneviratne and insisted that he would hear the case. Shocked and unnerved by this conduct Ms. Seneviratne asked for a date and made representations to the then President of the BASL by letter dated 6.3.2006

11. On 6.3.2006 I became aware that His Lordship the Chief Justice had recommended to H.E. the President that Hon. Nihal Jayasinhe and Hon. N.K. Udalagama be appointed as members of the J.S.C.

12. On 9.3.2006 I filed SC Application 108/06 (FR) in my personal capacity as a citizen of Sri Lanka who was practicing as an Attorney-at-law, seeking, inter alia, a declaration that my fundamental right to act according to my conscience guaranteed by Article 10 and my fundamental right to engage in my chosen profession (the legal profession) guaranteed by Article l4(l)(g) of the Constitution have been infringed and a direction to the Speaker, Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to conduct an Inquiry into the “matters of Conscience” that prompted the resignation of Hon. Shirani Bandaranayake J and Hon. T.B. Weerasuriya J.

13. When this matter was supported on 22.3.2006 before Hon. Shirani Thilakawardena J Hon. Udalagama J and Hon. Dissanayake J, Justice Udalagama was excused and exempted from hearing the case because he was the 7th Respondent. I objected to Hon. Shirani Tilakawardena hearing this case primarily on the ground that I had filed two applications against her for violation of my fundamental rights. She overruled this objection but upheld my objection that the matter was too important to be heard by 2 judges and listed it for support on 31.3.2006. Ms. Maureen Seneviratne PC and Mr. K.S. Ratnavale, Attorney-at-Law, were present in Court on 22.3.2006.

14. Wide publicity was given in the newspapers to the effect that the Court noted that “though he had no facts to support his application, he made a crude allegation that the said Judge’s body language had conveyed to him some imagined impartiality (sic), but that will be best ignored with the contempt that such comment deserves” and that the Court “sadly noted that this kind of unwarranted observation only reflects the decline and falling standards in the Court of Law”. 3

15. Since I couldn’t believe that such an observation could have been made by the Supreme Court I personally made several visits to the Registrar and the Registry to verify this but the docket was not available.

16. On 31.3.2006 when this matter was called in Court 502 you were personally present in Court. I informed Court that I had not been able to get a copy of the order, made by Court on 22.3.2006 and therefore was not prepared to support the application that day and sought to support it on a future date. Justice Tilakawardena offered the docket for my perusal. I was reluctant to do so and you personally urged me to peruse the docket. I thereupon perused the docket and found that the paper report was substantially correct. As I indeed had many facts to support my objection, I wanted to gather these facts and support the application on a later date. However Justice Tilakawardena insisted on my supporting it immediately, stating also that Justice Marsoof had to attend the Mosque.

17. When I attempted to support the Petition she immediately stated that they were possessed of all the facts in the Petition and directed me to address them on the relevant law. I submitted that there were several averments that needed explanation and briefly explained, inter alia, the following:

(1) What a score of 99 in the Quantitative area in the GMAT meant.
(2) My disillusionment about the response to my stating the truth.
(3) Advice tendered to Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa at felicitation by Richmond 50-60  Club on 3.8,2004. /
(4) Need for founding CIMOGG in 2002.
(5) Murder of Judge Ambepitiya.
(6) Citizens’ Commission on Judicial Reforms.
(7) Observations of Hon. Nihal Jayasinghe J and Hon. K.C. Kamalasabayson J
(8) Resignations from J.S.C. on matters of conscience.
(9) Unjustified treatment of Ms. Maureen Seneviratne PC by His Lordship the Chief  Justice.
(10) Ill-treatment of Senior Lawyer Suraweera by Junior Judicial Officer.
(11) Appointments in violation of specific constitutional provisions.

You were personally present for the entire proceedings and saw first hand what transpired. The only order pronounced was “leave to proceed is refused”.

18. On the 23′ September 2006 evening, it was brought to my notice that the Ex Co of the BASL had, that morning discussed SC Rule 1/2006 which was to be served on me on 2.10.2006, in respect of SC 108/06 (FR). I received no notice of this matter but was present in Court 502 when SC Rule 1/2006 was called after 11.00 a.m. on 2.10.2006. No lawyer’s name was mentioned. After the State Counsel commenced addressing Court, I walked up and stated that I believed that this rule was in respect of me, but that I had received no notice. Neither the Registrar nor the Deputy Registrar were present in Court. His Lordship the Chief Justice then inquired as to where the Registrar was and thereupon the Deputy Registrar came in to Court.

19. His Lordship the Chief Justice personally read out the report of the Fiscal of the DC Colombo wherein he had stated that he went to 144, Vipulasena Mawatha on 6.9.2006 but had been unable to serve the notice. His Lordship thereafter directed the Deputy Registrar to give me a copy of the Rule and made order that the matter be called on 20th November 2006.

20. You would have noticed that, quite unusually, the Rule does not even indicate who e complainant is. I therefore requested’ the Registrar in writing to kindly furnish me with:
(a)  certified copies of all journal entries in this connection,
(b)  a certified copy of the purported complaint on which the Rule has been based,
(c)  a certified copy of the “Specific (sic) given that the Bench was possessed of the  Content of the Petition” referred to in charge 1
(d) a certified copy of the “question of law that arose for consideration” referred to in  charge 2,
(e) a certified copy of “the intemperate language” allegedly made by me and a  description of the “gesticulation” allegedly made by me, referred to in charge 3,  and
(f) the docket of SC 108/06 (FR) referred to in the above Rule, for my perusal.

21. However on 16.10.2006 the Registrar informed me that His Lordship the Chief Justice had directed him to inform me that nothing will be made available to me other than the “Ru1e” (a copy of which was delivered to me by the Deputy Registrar in open Court on 2J0.2006)

22. In the meantime when I was supporting Application No. SC 106/04 (FR) on 4.10.2006 before Hon. Shirani Bandaranayake J, Hon. Saleem Marsoof J and Hon. A.R.M. Somawansa in the course of the arguments it was decided by Their Lordships to resume this matter another day and I made an application that this matter be resumed on a day before 20.11.2006 because I may not be able to represent my client thereafter. Justice Marsoof spontaneously stated that my client would be better off without me. I was dumbfounded and requested that this observation be recorded. Realising that this observation would not be recorded I informed Court that I was taking cognizance of the statement that “my client would be better off without me”. The case was refixed for 18.1.2007.

23. When the very next case was called, I informed Court that in view of the statement that my client would be better off without me I would not support that application at that time and would notify my client (a student in Jaffna of this position and hand over the brief to her.

24. I am bringing these facts to your notice so that you may place them before the Ex Co that is due to meet on 21.10.2006 and the ‘Bar Council which is due to meet on 28.l0.2006 for any action\\you may deem appropriate.

25. It is significant that the BASL was not represented at the proceedings on 2.10.2006 and His Lordship the Chief Justice specifically inquired if the BASL was represented. I mentioned this to you on 5.10.2006 at the OPA, after Judge Weeramantry’s felicitation, when you inquired from me if the inquiry was held as scheduled on 2.10.2006.

26. I shall be pleased to furnish any further information you consider necessary.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Elmore Perera

Copy to: Mr. Nilial Serasinghe, Chairman of the OPA Committee of the BASL for  information.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Document Type : Forwarded Open Letter
Document ID : AHRC-FL-006-2006
Countries : Sri Lanka,