By Colombo Telegraph -
In a new development, the appeal filed against the relief given by the Appeal Court to Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake which as reported yesterday was listed before a bench presided over by de facto Chief Justice Mohan Pieris was today (14.02.2013) moved suddenly to a bench presided over by Justice Shiranee Tilakewardane. Tilakewardane was the only witness whose evidence was suddenly led against Bandaranayake without her knowledge and in her absence in the widely condemned proceedings of the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed by the Rajapaksa regime. This was after Bandaranayake and her lawyers had been told that no evidence of witnesses would be taken and no cross examination would be allowed.
Case number SC (Special) LA 23/2013 was in this way taken up in Courtroom No. 403 before Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane, Justice Chandra Ekanayake and Justice S. Hettige (PC) today. Interestingly, Dr. Bandaranayake who had not been noticed. Therefore she was absent and no lawyer appeared for her.
In this way the appeal was fixed for 05.03.2013 with notice to be sent to Bandaranayake, which The Colombo Telegraph learns is the same date that SC (FR) 23/2013, another case filed independently by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu challenging the legality of Mohan Pieris exercising the functions of the Chief Justice is to be taken up. Pieris is the 6th respondent in that case.
The two cases have in this way been fixed for the same date, without the involvement or agreement of the lawyers appearing for Bandaranayake.
It now remains to be seen whether the two cases are sought to be tied up together or one made dependent on the outcome of the other. Neither the lawyers for Bandaranayake nor lawyers for the CPA have agreed to the two cases being taken up together. In fact, it seems that the listing of the two cases for the same date has now been secured without knowledge or participation of either set of lawyers.
In the CPA case, lawyers have clearly taken up the position that only a full bench could properly hear the case, since Pieris as the 6th respondent cannot play any role in selecting judges to take up a case that challenges the validity and constitutionality of him occupying the Chief Justice’s place in the country’s judicial system.
In the meantime The Colombo Telegraph learns through reliable sources close to the regime who spoke on strict condition of anonymity that tremendous pressure is being applied on some judges to get them to decline to hear the matter citing personal reasons. The sources said they have been promised they will not be witch hunted for past independence but considered for future benefits if they cooperate in this way and pave the way for a bench that would definitely hold in favour of the regime.