Attorney General Dappula De Livera refused to give a copy of his written submissions to the counsel for the petitioners in the 20th Amendment Bill determination cases, when counsel for the petitioners made an application for it to allow them to properly use their right to respond.
The AG had briefly summarised his submissions but said his full arguments are in his written submissions that are 200 pages long.
Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya asked him whether he could make it available to the petitioners’ counsel. De Livera declined to comply with court’s request. He told the CJ that even the soft-copy form that he was giving the court, he would only give to the court tomorrow (06/10/2020).
The petitioners are due to file their written submissions in response, by tomorrow at 3pm. It was evident that this move was to prevent the petitioners from being able to get any access to the AG’s submissions in time to respond, and thereby get an unfair advantage.
Ultimately, the court made directions for one of its copies available by the court registry, for the petitioners’ counsel to be able to get copies.
Observers noted that this shows that the AG has little respect or regard for the right to a fair hearing. They further queried, whether the court would have been as tolerant and accommodating if a counsel for the petitioners had behaved in that way, noting that equality of opposing parties in any court proceedings is a basic minimum standard, without which confidence in the judicial system will suffer.