The shock move to appoint Priyantha Jayawardena PC who is a close associate of Minister Basil Rajapaksa and is alleged to have been involved in many “underhand deals” has resulted in widespread fear and criticism among judicial and intellectual circles in the country, with one of the country’s most senior Lawyers saying that “this is the worst appointment in my entire life”.
Priyantha Jayawardena has gained notoriety and prominence due to his alleged dealings with Minister Basil Rajapaksa and business tycoon Harry Jayawardena.
The move has sent shock-waves within the legal fraternity.
Speaking to the Colombo Telegraph on the condition of anonymity, senior Presidents’ Counsel who have been supportive of the government expressed shock and dismay at the move.
“The executive has the power to appoint, but all such appointments have to be above board. The men regardless of their political affiliations should have maintained a high standard of integrity. That is what is most important in a judge, and if that is compromised, everything else does not matter,” they said.
Earlier, Justice Sathya Hettige who was also considered a close ally of the ruling regime was accused of corruption and other malpractices during his tenure as a Judge of the Supreme Court.
Hettige and Justice Shiranee Thilakawardane retired paving the way for the news appointments.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka and the Lawyers Collective, two legal bodies that have continuously voiced their opinion against intervention by the executive have maintained stoic silence regarding the appointment.
Instead the BASL has issued a letter calling regional branches to discuss the mode of appointment of judges with no reference to Jayawardena.
The Colombo Telegraph also learns that Judges of the Court of Appeal have voiced their displeasure over the appointment.