By Colombo Telegraph –
Pakistan’s powerful Chief Justice, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry issued a statement earlier this week, disassociating himself from a controversial letter written to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by the International Council of Jurists, supporting the process to impeach Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
“It is clarified that no support has ever been extended by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to the decision of removing the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake,” a statement on the official website of Pakistan’s Supreme Court said.
The Pakistan Supreme Court website statement notes that while its Chief Justice has been conferred the status of Vice President of the International Council of Jurists, he had never supported the statement issued by the organization.
The letter from the International Council of Jurists is the only one of its kind, and provides a detailed defence of the Sri Lankan Government’s impeachment process that resulted in Bandaranayake’s sacking from office.
“In this situation, we take this opportunity to assure that the Sri Lankan Government has not committed wrong in removing Chief Justice Ms Shirani Bandaranayake as the removal proceedings were absolutely in accordance with the prevalent Sri Lankan laws,” the Council of Jurists President Dr. Adish C Aggarwala wrote to President Rajapaksa. Aggarwala is also the President of the All India Bar Association.
On its official website, the International Council of Jurists cites the Vice Presidents of the organization as being the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the Chief Justice of Bangladesh and the Honourable Lord Navnit Dhoalakala, House of Lords member UK, and a former British High Court judge among others, and a former International Court of Justice (world court) Vice President.
Colombo Telegraph learns that the two British jurists cited as being Vice Presidents of the International Council of Jurists on the council’s website and mentioned in the original news item had also been entirely unaware of the letter to President Rajapaksa by Aggarwala. Sir Justice Gavin Lightman, the British High Court judge in question had resigned as Vice President to the Council, the Colombo Telegraph learns.
It is also learnt that Baron Dholakia has claimed to have no connection to the Council of Jurists and does not endorse Aggarwala’s statements.
Aggrawala’s letter stated that organizations that were decrying Bandaranayake’s removal were not aware of Sri Lankan law.
“It is always better to know law first and then comment,” Aggarwala notes, extending the ICJ’s full support to the newly appointed Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.