A 5 judge bench of the Supreme Court (Justices Saleem Marsoof, Chandra Ekanayake, Sathya Hettige, Eva Wanadundera & Rohini Marasinghe) specially appointed by de facto Chief Justice Mohan Pieris, dismissed all cases challenging the illegal ouster of the legal Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake today (24.03.2014).
In one of the cases SC FR 23/2013, Pieris was named as a respondent. In that case, the petitioners (Centre for Policy Alternatives & its Executive Director, Dr. PaikIasothy Saravanamuttu) had filed a motion and told court that they will not participate in the hearing of the case anymore, after the judges refused to consider objections raised to Pieris as a respondent handpicking judges without allowing all judges of the court (called as ‘full bench’) to hear the case. The 5 judge bench held that the petitioners withdrawing from participating was an abuse of the the court process, because the case was filed in the public interest.
However, senior constitutional law analysts, said that the withdrawal was a principled protest against compromising judicial integrity by a party to the case picking some judges and leaving others out (called as ‘bench fixing’).
All the cases (including one by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka – BASL) were dismissed without costs, upholding preliminary objections raised on behalf of the Rajapaksa regime.
According to several very senior lawyers and constitutional law experts contacted by Colombo Telegraph (who asked not to be named), the judgments are invalid and void under basic judicial norms, since they violate basic principles of natural justice, with the selection by respondent Pieris of a special bench. The refusal of the selected judges to uphold objections to such selection further made the whole process and judgements highly questionable and illegal.
Therefore, according to several senior analysts, these judgments have failed to whitewash and convert the status of the de facto CJ to the position of the legal (called as ‘de jure’) CJ. The legal Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake is prevented from functioning in office. They said that the matter could be re-opened someday when Rule of Law is restored.