Colombo Telegraph

BASL Leadership Under Pressure From Both MR Regime And Members

By Colombo Telegraph

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) is coming under intense pressure from its members and branch associations to take a bold stand against the impeachment of the Chief Justice. Senior lawyers contacted by Colombo Telegraph stated that BASL President, Wijedasa Rajapakse, is taking a very lukewarm attitude towards the issue. His standard excuse is that he needs instructions from the Executive Committee. They state that former BASL Presidents like H.W. Jayewardena, Nimal Senanayake, H.L. dec Silva and Desmond Fernando gave leadership to the Executive Committee and persuaded the Ex Co to take bold stands.

BASL chief Wijeyadasa and Chief Justice Shirani

Lawyers are also disappointed with Anoma Gunatilleke, Deputy President of the BASL, who is dragging the President and the Ex Co into doing nothing. She is the wife of former IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne, who is a member of the Bribery Commission. Wickramaratne sided with Commission Chairman Balapatabendi (former Supreme Court Judge whose son is married to former CJ Asoka de Silva) against Justice Wimalachandra who took up the position that there was no material to charge CJ’s husband Kariyawasam in the NSB share case. The Wickramaratne couple is very close to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Anoma Gunatilleke used to go to outstation courts with STF security when her husband was IGP, senior lawyers say.

Anoma Gunatilleke is hoping to be the next BASL President in 2014, with the help of the Rajapaksa regime. Traditionally the BASL President is elected uncontested in the second year. But lawyers are now planning to challenge Wijedasa Rajapakse at the next election due in February 2013. Senior lawyers say the double dealings of Wijedasa Rajapakse as well as Anoma Gunatilleke need to be exposed. Sometime back, the MR regime hit back at Wijedasa Rajapakse by exposing his income tax problems. Sources told Colombo Telegraph that the regime is holding on to his tax file and restraining him.

If the BASL fails to take note of the above measures, the Kandy Bar Association said it would choose to follow an independent course of action in consultation with the other branch organizations. The impeachment motion against the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was discussed at length at a special committee meeting of the Kandy Bar Association held recently and five resolutions were unanimously passed to be forwarded to the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL). The committee meeting held at the Bar Association library auditorium was presided over by Kandy Bar Association President Attorney Upali Bogahapitiya. The resolutions expressed the Association’s displeasure and concern over the attitude of the BASL leadership regarding the subject matter and stressed the need for immediate decisions by the BASL on the impeachment motion and also called for an immediate news conference of local and international media.

President’s Counsel Wijaya Wickramaratne (former President of the Kandy Bar Association and former SLFP Leader of the Opposition in the Central Provincial Council), Attorneys Upali Bogahapitiya, Harendra Dunuwila (former MP and former Mayor of Kandy), Upul Hewage, Nishan Dias Gunasekera, secretary of the Kandy Association Nilantha Perera also expressed their views at the meeting.

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