Over 300 lawyers gathered outside the Chief Magistrate Court today to welcome the De Jure Chief Justice, when she came to the court answering summons. The Bribery Commission had instituted action against her on the basis that she had not disclosed two bank accounts in her asset declarations. Counsel for the Chief Justice pointed out that those two accounts didnot have any funds and therefore were not assets. It was also pointed out that the Chief Justice, who was controversially removed has been charged for an offence that brings with it a fine of only only Rs.1000 (less than US$10) and the entire prosecution is malicious. Over 100 lawyers, from all parts of the country, appeared for her. Her passport was impounded but the Judge indicated that the court permission will have to be obtained if she wants to go out of the country. No other bail conditions were imposed.
When her name was called, CJ Shirani Bandaranayake came up and she was requested to wait outside the Accused Stand (BOX) but she politely declined the offer and get into the Box like any other criminal, stating that she does not seek special privileges. The packed court house was deeply moved when for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka judiciary an unlawfully removed chief justice was prosecuted in a vicious manner. CJ Bandaranayake had previously openly challenged the biased conduct of two of the members of the Bribery Commission. Hundreds of lawyers were seen in tears when she came out of the Court House.
Addressing the media, the President of the Bar Association said that all the lawyers in the country and outside wanted the Bar Association to observe the proceedings to ensure justice for the lawful Chief Justice of the country. Attorney at law J.C. Weliamuna, the convener of the Lawyers’ Collective stated that they were closely observing the proceedings.