‘Lawyers for Democracy’ is deeply concerned of the stony silence of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) on the attempt by the government to adopt the 20th Amendment which will strike a painful blow on the independence of the judiciary.
Issuing a statement the convener of the Lawyers for Democracy, Lal Wijenayake said: “The disinterest shown by the BASL when the whole country is involved in a serious discussion on the attack on the independence of the judiciary and in fact on democracy itself is most surprising.
“The arrogation of the power of appointment of judges to the Superior Courts by the President and the bringing the Judicial Service Commission directly under the control of the President by changing the composition of the JSC is a serious step towards the control of the judiciary. Under the 19th Amendment JSC was constituted of the Chief Justice, the most senior next judge of the Supreme Court and the most senior judge of the Supreme Court with experience on the working of minor judiciary. In the proposed 20th Amendment the composition of the JSC will be the Chief Justice as President of the JSC and 2 other judges of the Supreme Court appointed by the President. Further it is set out that the President can remove the two judges appointed by him at any time without assigning any reason. This shows the arrogance and disrespect towards the judiciary.
“It is the BASL that led the historical struggle in the run up to 2015 Presidential election against the attempt to control the judiciary. The struggle led by the BASL against the removal of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake paved the way towards the protection of the independence of the judiciary.
“The BASL is not a trade union of lawyers but it is the professional body of lawyers that is vested with the task of protecting the rights of the legal profession and more importantly the dignity of the profession and judicial independence.
“We ‘Lawyers for Democracy’ call upon the BASL to act immediately to express the views of the Bar on the 20th Amendment.”