By Colombo Telegraph -
The Supreme Court list of cases to be taken up on 06.02.2013 shows that SC (FR) 23/2013 filed by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu is listed as the fifth case to be taken up for support to be granted leave to proceed with the application.
This is after a motion was filed asking that all judges of the Supreme Court sitting as a Full Bench should hear the case. Mohan Pieris, PC who now functions as the Chief Justice is named as the 6th respondent, and among the relief sought is a declaration that he cannot seek to exercise or discharge the functions of the Chief Justice, given that there is no legal, valid vacancy for that position. The lawful holder of that office (Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake) is excluded from exercising her functions.
In this situation, Constitutional law experts told The Colombo Telegraph that it would be completely improper and inappropriate for the ‘Chief Justice’ to exercise a choice as to which judges of the Supreme Court should hear the case. The sole option that would not cast suspicion and the appearance that justice is not done, is for all judges of the Supreme Court to be required and permitted to hear the case, without leaving out any judges. They emphasized that the 6th respondent should not have no part whatsoever of a discretionary nature to play in the hearing of this case in which he has a clear personal interest.
However, according to the list, the case is due to be taken up on 05.02.2013 before Justice Shiranee Tilakewardane, Justice S. I. Imam and Justice Priyasath Dep (PC). This means not only that a choice of judges has been made, but also that Justice Shiranee Tilakewardane who suddenly attended the controversial and widely condemned proceedings before the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed for the impeachment of Dr. Bandaranayake and gave evidence against Dr. Bandaranayake would preside over the case when it is taken up tomorrow (06.02.2013). Dr. Bandaranayake and her lawyers had complained to the Appeal Court that evidence was led in this way, after they were clearly informed by the Parliamentary Select Committee that no oral evidence of witnesses would be taken and in their absence.
A constitutional law expert contacted by The Colombo Telegraph for his views, said “It is a cardinal principle of the rule of law that justice must not only done, but must also be seen to be done. It remains to be seen whether justice is (or can be) done in the current scenario, with the 18th Amendment and the threat of a farcical impeachment without any due process being meted out as was done to Dr. Bandaranayake. But at the moment it certainly cannot be said that justice is seen to be done.”