Colombo Telegraph

Appointing An Acting CJ: It Is Absurd To Even Imagine That Such A Provision Exists

By Colombo Telegraph

“Appointment of a Chief Justice can be made of only after removing the Chief Justice.  But the only way in which chief Justice can be removed is by presenting an impeachment motion passed by Parliament.  There is no provision to remove the Chief Justice or to stay her functioning as Chief Justice temporarily.  Any action taken in violation of the Constitution will further erode the confidence the people has on the independence of the judiciary, the Rule of Law and the constitution.  An ill advised step in this direction will only further bring disrepute to the country in the eyes of the international community.  We earnestly call upon the President to restrain from such action.” says the Lawyers for Democracy.

Lal Wijenayake

Issuing a statement LfD Convener Lal Wijenayake says “‘Lawyers for Democracy’ condemns the move by certain individuals to mislead the authorities concerned and the public to believe that there are provisions in the Constitution to appoint an acting Chief Justice pending the inquiry before the select committee of Parliament”

We publish LfD statement in full;

‘Lawyers for Democracy’ condemns the move by certain individuals to mislead the authorities concerned and the public to believe that there are provisions in the Constitution to appoint an acting Chief Justice pending the inquiry before the select committee of Parliament.  It is absurd to even imagine that such a provision exists.  An acting appointment can be made only in the situations set out in Article 109(1) of the Constitution, that is, when the Chief Justice is temporarily unable to exercise, perform and discharge the powers, duties and functions of his office, by reason of illness, absence from Sri Lanka or any other cause.  As it is today the Chief Justice is in Sri Lanka and is functioning as the Chief Justice and hence there is no room to make an acting appointment.  Appointment of a Chief Justice can be made of only after removing the Chief Justice.  But the only way in which chief Justice can be removed is by presenting an impeachment motion passed by Parliament.  There is no provision to remove the Chief Justice or to stay her functioning as Chief Justice temporarily.  Any action taken in violation of the Constitution will further erode the confidence the people has on the independence of the judiciary, the Rule of Law and the constitution.  An ill advised step in this direction will only further bring disrepute to the country in the eyes of the international community.  We earnestly call upon the President to restrain from such action.

‘Lawyers for Democracy (LfD) is a representative body of legal practitioners throughout the island.  Conveners include Lal Wijenayake, Chandrapala Kumarage, J. C. Weliamuna, K. S. Ratnavale, Sudath Netthisinghe, Sudarshana Gunawardana.  It was established on 10th December 2009’.

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