A five judge Supreme Court bench specially nominated by de facto Chief Justice Mohan Pieris, today (23.10.2013) refused the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the Bar Association of England & New South Wales, permission to be heard on the important questions of law relating to the appeal from the challenge to the removal of the de jure Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake.
The five judges were S. Marsoof, Chandra Ekanayake, Sathya Hettige, Shanthi Eva Wanasundera and Rohini Marasinghe.
Dr. Bandaranayake had refused to participate in the appeal, with the Supreme Court being controlled by the de facto CJ. However, the case is seen as crucial to restore judicial independence. The Attorney General, not even a party to the case and who had only been asked to make submissions to assist the Appeal Court, took the controversial step of appealing the Appeal Court ruling holding the so called impeachment unconstitutional. This step was earlier objected to as bad under the law but the objection was overruled by the same five judges.
Today, senior counsel and constitutional law expert Dr. Sunil Coorey appeared for the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the Bar Association of England & New South Wales, who said that it was important to allow the court to have the benefit of submissions given the importance of judicial independence. The Attorney General strongly objected to them as outsiders being allowed to appear and assist court.
The case was ordered to be listed for hearing on 28.11.2013.