By Colombo Telegraph –
The cases relating to the impeachment process against Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake carried out by the Rajapaksa regime controlled Parliament are due to be taken up at 9:30am in the Supreme Court (Court Room No. 502), tomorrow, 05.03.2013.
The case numbers are:- Fundamental Rights cases SC(FR) 665/2012, 666/2012, 667/2012, 672/2012 & 23/2013 and Appeal case No. SC (Special) LA 23/2013.
SC (Special) LA 23/2013 is an appeal from CA (Writ) 411/2012 that was filed by Bandaranayake in which the Appeal Court quashed the purported findings of the Parliamentary Select Committee which had been arrived at without passing laws to ensure an honest, fair inquiry for a valid finding to be arrived at which alone could be the basis for a valid impeachment. This was in line with the Supreme Court interpreting the Constitution to require such laws as a prerequisite for impeachment of any judge of the Supreme Court or Appeal Court due to the need to preserve judicial independence.
Several fundamental rights cases ask the court to quash Standing Order 78A, which after those cases were filed have been declared to be invalid in terms of the Constitution, while one case – SC (FR) 23/2013 seeks to prevent Mohan Pieris (PC) from exercising the powers and functions of the office of the Chief Justice, given that Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake has not been validly removed from office, though she has been forcibly excluded from attending work and functioning as Chief Justice.
According to the Supreme Court List of Cases issued to lawyers, the Bench is to consist of the following judges of the Supreme Court:
Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane
Justice N. G. Amaratunga
Justice Saleem Marsoof (PC)
Justice K. Sripavan
Justice P. A. Ratnayake
Justice Chandra Ekanayake
Justice Sathya Hettige
Justice Priyasath Dep (PC)
Justice S. Eva Wanasundera (PC)
The above judges are all those presently functioning as judges of the Supreme Court, except for de facto Chief Justice Mohan Pieris (PC). Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake remains ousted from her official Chief Justice’s Chambers, from which Pieris now functions.
Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane who is scheduled to head the bench is the only witness to have given evidence before the controversial Parliamentary Select Committee against Dr. Bandaranayake without the knowledge or participation of Bandaranayake or her lawyers. They complained of this fact publicly and in court proceedings. Therefore, according to legal experts contacted by The Colombo Telegraph, it would not be proper for Justice Tilakawardane to sit on the bench for these cases, in keeping with the Rules of Natural Justice.
The Colombo Telegraph in an earlier report, disclosed that various Supreme Court judges were being approached to either overrule the earlier Supreme Court ruling or at least excuse themselves from hearing the case citing ‘personal reasons’. Sources now confirm that judges who held the impeachment process unconstitutional have been told in various ways that this is their chance to avoid ‘consequences’ of past independence.
Grave concern at the removal of judicial independence in Sri Lanka has been expressed by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, the Opposition, civil society groups and the international community including the United Nations, Commonwealth, International Commission of Jurists, United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.