SRI LANKA: Lawyers Collective writes to the Supreme Court 

Your Lordships and Your Ladyships of the Supreme Court,


As Your Lordships and Ladyships are aware the Supreme Court has on the 1st of January 2013 exercised its Constitutional Jurisdiction and interpreted the Constitution holding that a Select Committee appointed under Standing Order 78A of the Parliament, does not have the power to arrive at a finding against a Judge of a Superior Court in terms of Article 107(3) of the Constitution.

On the 3rd of January 2013 the Court of Appeal, exercising Writ jurisdiction under Article 140 of the Constitution, quashed the decision of the Parliamentary Select Committee finding the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake guilty of three charges set out in the impeachment resolution submitted by 117 Members of Parliament.

In view of the interpretation given by Your Lordships’ Court and the decision of the Court of Appeal, the attempt to remove the Chief Justice from office is without any legal basis and contrary to the Constitution and the law of the land.

We understand that despite the aforesaid interpretation and the judgment of the Court of Appeal, nevertheless the Parliament of Sri Lanka is debating the resolution of impeachment and seeking to submit an address of Parliament to the President calling for the removal of the Chief Justice.

We understand that there is a likelihood of such an address being followed by Her Ladyship the Chief Justice being illegally removed from office and being replaced with a new appointee, whose appointment is illegal and contrary to the Constitution of Sri Lanka and the very decisions of Your Lordships’ Court. Such a person would be a usurper in the Office of Chief Justice.

As you are well aware you are obliged (as are we) to honour and follow the decisions of our courts whether we agree with it or not. Thus disagreements in other quarters is irrelevant.

In the aforesaid circumstances, at a time the Judiciary and the Bar of Sri Lanka are facing the gravest crisis in the history of its existence, we as members of the Bar feel it our bounden duty to call upon Your Lordships and Ladyships’ to act to protect the independence of the judiciary which is an intangible heritage of the people of this country.

Accordingly we the undersigned earnestly request that the Judges of the Supreme Court should refuse to accept an appointment of Chief Justice ( or as acting Chief Justice) or refuse to recognise any person appointed to the office of Chief Justice and refuse to sit with a person appointed as the Chief Justice as such an appointment would be contrary to the Constitution which Your Lordships and Ladyships and we as members of the Bar have sworn to uphold.

We may add that Your Ladyships and Lordships are obliged to follow the decisions of our courts and that if Your Lordships or Ladyships refuse to abide by the rulings of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal you cannot expect any other person to follow the orders of any of our courts.

Dr. Jayampathi Wickramaratne PC & Srinath Perera PC
On behalf of

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Document Type : Forwarded Open Letter
Document ID : AHRC-FOL-001-2013
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Judicial system,