1 October, 2020

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Reinstate The Legal CJ – Judges Around The World Condemn Impeachment Of Chief Justice

By International Commission of Jurists –

Today, senior judges and eminent jurists from around the world joined together, calling on the Government of Sri Lanka to reinstate the legal Chief Justice Dr Shirani Bandaranayake.

Chief Justice Bandaranayake

An open letter issued by the Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) was sent to the Honorable Speaker of Parliament Chamal Rajapakse and H.E. President Mahinda Rajapakse, condemning the removal of Chief Justice Dr Shirani Bandaranayake as unconstitutional and in contravention of international standards on judicial independence.

The letter emphasized that an independent and impartial judiciary is essential for the protection of human rights, the rule of law, good governance and democracy.

It says: “The irremovability of judges is a main pillar of judicial independence. Judges may be removed only in the most exceptional cases involving serious misconduct or incapacity. And in such exceptional circumstances, any removal process must comport with international standards of due process and fair trial, including the right to an independent review of the decision.”

The impeachment process, and subsequent removal of the legal Chief Justice disregarded international standards of judicial independence and minimum guarantees of due process and fair trial.

“The Rajapakse Government has brought Sri Lanka within steps of authoritarian rule, dismantling the system of checks and balances and eviscerating judicial independence,” said Wilder Tayler, ICJ Secretary General.

The Government’s conduct is a flagrant violation of the core values of the Commonwealth of Nations, notably the Latimer House Principles on the Three Branches of Government 2003.

The Latimer House Principles require the State to uphold the rule of law by protecting judicial independence and maintaining mutual respect and cooperation between Parliament and the Judiciary.

The Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association endorsed the letter.

In recent days, lawyers and advocates, opposing the impeachment have allegedly been sent threatening letters from a group identified as the Patriotic Taskforce.

The group has targeted the lawyers as traitors. Civil society groups have also been targeted in smear campaigns in the media. The Chief Justice has voiced concern for her and her family’s safety, calling on the international media to “…look after the three of us.”

“Sri Lanka must act immediately to guarantee the security of persons who have been the subject of threats or intimidation and must initiate prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into such allegations,” Tayler added.

The ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and the undersigned jurists urge H.E. President Mahinda Rajapakse and Speaker of Parliament Chamal Rajapakse to act immediately to restore the independence of the judiciary by reinstating the legal Chief justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake.

Read the FULL VERSION OF THE LETTER with list of signatories here

Read the Sinhala Translation here

 

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Latest comments

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    These emminent jurist across the globe have delivered a final ultimatum to the president and speaker. It is significant that this is addressed to these two and not to the governement as the two brothers are the prime movers behind this infamous action.

    The same jurist are some who sit on the war crimes tribunals in the hague. So the govt is well advised to comply with international standards of law and justice instead of taking the futile stand that we are sovereign and any goes in this island.

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    One thing is clear. When the judges around the world mention ‘Reinstate the legal CJ’, they have still not accepted Mohan Peiris as the legitimate CJ. If that is the position, how is Mohan Peiris going to participate at the Commonwealth Judges Association. Will Gota send his 52nd Division of his military and dictate terms on the Commonwealth Judges Association? Desperate situation for Mohan Peiris and if Mohan Peiris is ignored, it is going to be a disgrace for MR & Co.

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    Drama unfolding after the impeacmnt. Some officials who initiated a conflict between the government and the Judiciary had to resign, some officials continue to disrupt. Corruption in many institutions needs to be addressed. If they approve corruption ultimately they get impeached.
    University grant commission made series of blunders due to corrupt officials during the last 3 years. The most corrupt officials in the UGC are additional secretaries on admissions, UGC Chairman lost the post and had to resign with disgrace because of them.

    Additional secretary is responsible for admissions. They have planned corrupt procedures for several more years to come. He will definitely put the next UGC chairperson also in to serious trouble.

    Resignation of UGC chairmen alone would not solve serious problems facing the UGC, only resignation or sacking of them would resolve these protracted issues. There will be eternal trouble if he continues to stay in the UGC, These corrupt people are not bothered about the consequences to their own superiors as long as this individual gains more and more from corrupt and manipulated university admissions. They disregard and destroy long established standard method of university admissions as a result every thing else in the education sector have been messed up. Future generation will be in complete disarray the confidence placed upon on university education and advanced level examination by the younger generation is completely disrupted.
    These people try to deceive all the higher authorities, allocation of zero figures for university admissions is a serious violation of fundamental rights, he is adopting a method where there is no room for university admission in many districts . UGC chairman tried to cover up corrupt methods of Priyantha Premakumara, at the end Gamini Samaranayake had to resign in disgrace. Thief is still there, future head of the UGC will face the same consequences. They put the judiciary also in to disrepute by trying to get approval for corrupt procedures. Corrupt cut off marks and discrepancies cannot be covered up, these figures will be known and records will be available, retrospectively it is a disgrace for the future referral. If the Judiciary approves zero allocations I will be a black mark and a disgrace, as it will be displayed as approved by the Judiciary. Corrupt officials continue as saints and those who approve will be blamed and impeached. This can happen again, unless the judiciary is alert to them. Newly appointed heads will also be put in to disrepute.

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      If there are international repercussions, if the good image of the nation is also damaged, why don’t His Excellency President and the government immediately remove inefficient and incapable official, rather than getting the UGC chairmen to resign? That would definitely solve most of the problems created in the higher education sector. Judges were also harshly criticized for approving wrong methods for admission by the same person who proposes irregular method at the end. Times to accept correct procedure presented by the lawyers and rectify all anomalies. If that opportunity is also rejected future of higher education will have no hope. Next generation would continue to suffer. Still there is lot of room for correction through the court proceedings.

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    The ruling family is tightening their grip on power step by step. The voice of the ICJ too is sure to fall on deaf ears. The step number 1: A fake democracy with a submissive leader of opposition. The step number 2: An authoritarian regime with MR posing a patriotic leader prepared to lay down his life for the cause of saving the country from “international conspirators”. The third and the final step: A brutal tyranny which will not tolerate any dissent;a protectorate of China! Woe be unto fools who cannot foresee this scenario!

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      At the same time, it should not be forgotten that this signals the beginning of the downfall of MR. Everyone is awaiting the sacking of Sri Lanka from the Comonwealth membership. Thereafter the real drama begins.

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    One more addition. If Sri Lanka is sacked from the Commonwealth membership, and if Sri Lanka aligns with China, one ponders how India will react to strenthen the SAARC. Will there be pressure on Sri Lanka or will India lend a helping hand to Sri Lanka, given the fact that an Indian Judge has signed this petition to reinstate the CJ. Another issue will the Indian judges invite or ignore the new CJ Mohan Peiris. These sensational issues are yet to crop with the bungling of Indian politicians.

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    Its a pity this happened. But a bit too late. Why did the rule of law and independence of judiciary not dawn on former CJ Dr Shirani earlier? Then the people would have truly backed her. When she sat with former CJ Sarath Silva and threw out large number of Human Rights cases from 1997-2009, even without a hearing, no one talked about all these these hallowed princples. Many of us left country because of thar. CJ Shirani played ball with Govt all through till her husband got caught with bribery. Now its amazing that ICJ and others have woken up. When She sacked lower court judges and transferred them even without a hearing she forgot Rule of Law. People would have respected Former CJ and there would have been a mass uprising in her favour if she had taken leave of absence either when her husband was charged with bribery or when she was impeached. Then an acting CJ would have ensured that truly independent judges would have heard the Supreme Court case. Then the SC judgement on her matter would have had greater force and value and widely respected. Now people know Chief Justice Shirani handpicked the judges to hear her own case Madam. The SC judgement destroys separation of powers and undermines the supremacy of Parliament. Even in USA Courts have refused to intervene in Impeachment cases against judges on the basis that fellow Judges should not review cases against themselves and Parliament process should govern all that.

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      First of all, the system in Sri Lanka and USA is different. In Sri Lanka, there is only one House. In USA there are two Houses and the Senate is very powerful & monitor all activities of the legislature. Similarly in UK, there are two Houses. The Press is very strong in both UK and USA. In Sri Lanka, the media is suppressed and the number of journalists are cases in point. Moreover, there were three earlier CJs before Dr.Shirani Bandaranayake assumed office as CJ. She was performing her duties correctly that were assigned by the earlier CJs. Majority of the lawyers always request the Registrar to move the case files to be heard before Dr.Shirani Bandaranayake because she was honest and can expect fair hearing. Even during Sarath Silva CJ’s period things were not smooth, because there was a friction with MR. Both played with time until the retirement of Sarath Silva. Apparently after retirement judges expect some foreign assignments. In the case of Dr.Shirani Bandaranayake she is young and highly qualified. Even regarding her husband’s matter, she was ready to prove. On the contrary, the PSC was scared of giving her time to prove her innocence as well as that of her husband’s, because the majority of the members of the PSC were found guilty by the SC in which Dr.Shirani was presiding. Members of the PSC were unable to answer any objections raised by the Cousels for Dr.Shirani, because of their guilty conduct and some them had hardly practiced law and while some of them like Wimal Weerawansa was uncultured. They only want to take revenge and MR & Co wanted to take take a revenge because the controversial Bill was declared unconstitutional by Dr.Shirani. She has given the verdict in the best interests of the country and in compliance with the provisions of the constitution. Moreover, having been aware that there is no Upper House like in USA, Dr.Shirani, while delivering the judgment, was acting as an Upper Guardian of the People’s sovereignty and reflected the system of Checks and Balances through the Judiciary. Every right thinking person will appreciate Dr.Shirani, when She has performed a very difficult task in the midst of heavy pressures. The drama that took place after the verdict of the SC and the AC including that of the ignoring of the warnings of lawyers and judges throughout the world and the interviews given by MR & Co., speak for themselves about the abuse of powers by MR & Co.

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      @Ganeshan. Thanks for the wealth of information. So, she isnt as white as she was supposed to be. Wow!

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    Well, I thought the answer is simple. Advise all foreign governments to boycott meeting all Sri lankan president, all ministers, MPs and politcians, officials, and those representing government on legal matters, especially the Cheap Justice. Just simply boycott until SLK state gvernment and adminsitration reverts to governance by internationally accepted civilized norms and standards.

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    The despot will not hear anything as he is deaf.Pride has blinded his both eyes.Hearing is completly impaired.So all these international protest will have no meaning to him.Instead of protest the international community should urge their governments to initiate constructive action to make him to open his eyes.If not he will remain as it is.

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    Look here, Ganeshan, although you carry the name of a deity representing wisdom, you talk utter tosh! You dwell on inanities skirting the core issue. If Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake has done wrong let her be found guilty through a fair trial conducted adhering to the proper procedure! Do you say that Parliament is not subject to law? How can there be the rule of the law if the rulings of the superior courts are ignored with disdain?

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    Our president knows the world powers and organisations are “only barking dogs and seldom bite”. These organisations can not do anything to our president. they bark at international conferences, nothing happens. Sri Lankan President is not a fool like the world leaders. these world power has not done anything to him and will not do anything to him or his brothers. Next, he will appoint his son as CJ Who can do what?

    So in my opinion, our president has hoodwinked India, America, Canada, Britain. These people can topple other countries not Sri Lanka. If they enter, Our president will give enough in their mouth.

    So stop everything and salute MR.

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    In the recent past there are two Contrasting tales of women in Sri Lanka.
    First the Most Distinguished Acadamic and Her Lordship the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
    The other one is the most garden variet of the snake Girl whgo was dumped by a client who picked her up from a night club after beating and torturing for an extended perios.
    The COntrast has a Morale.
    The Mahinda Chinthanaya preaches ‘Nilla pirunu deyak.( I suspect he meant to be a ‘Country full of Blue Film ( Casino/Strip Dance and may be Live Sex Shows shortly. as some minions of the Rajapksha Cabal were proposing red light districts recently in the Capital, that is the way Mahind clan check the public opinion( ‘Muttiya Danawa’)/It could well follow sue.!!!
    So the Morale is ‘To hell with educated women and independece of Justice. the Casinos and the 3S( Sex. Sun. Sand) bring it on.!!!!
    So there you go, that is my reading of Mahinda Chinthanya.
    Since I am not very much versed in Literary critique as it is not my forte I owuld like the forum to comment on my thoughts.

    ;-)

    ‘Sapiri Gamak, Supiri Ratak, Nilla Pirunu Deyak’
    Oh my Foot!!!!

    aj

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      Shame on you aj- Shame on you for drawing a comparison between the hapless club dancer and your own “Most Distinguished Acadamic and Her Lordship the Chief Justice SBK”. To me I xcannot see any difference morally or otherwise between the two women Both are Sri Lankan and both have a right to defend themselves whatever their personal circumstances. Your piece praises one to the sky and denigrates the other to the bowels of hell. This is unfair and give us the impression that you happen to be an unfortunate suitor of the club dancer who may obviously have had her own reasons for spurning you.Keep out of intelligent discussions like this which require more grey matter and go seek your fortunes with some other girl-maybe a Rodiya girl from Aranthalawa or a bear dancer from Budapest. And by the way, good luck to you.

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    When Judges around the world has condemned the impeachment, where does our opposition leader Ranil stand over these voices.

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      He is still in a deep sleep

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      In MRs back pocket,smelling the odour and hardly “standing”

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    Salman!
    You sound like on Rjauaksha payroll.
    It hurts when it hits the nerve cntre isn’t it?
    The Mahinda Chinthanya creates more and more snake girls, that is a fact/
    When people are deprivedof teaching moral conduct, just society and decent education( ut hasbecome a joke the public free (where is it today) education, health and protection) believe it or not we are right in the path to become the sin city of south east asia next to bangk(C)ock!!!
    So enjoy the Chinthanya ride for now.
    But REMEMBER we got rid of LTTE thanks tobrave Generals like Hon. MP Sarath Fonseka in recent past.( read the witness stand statement by him in ‘Sudu Kodi Case’ you will have your writing written on the wall in large FONT.
    ‘CHINTHAN GON RELA PANNANA DAWAS ATHA LANGA’
    (It is not too far the day this country get the Chinthan clan sent to hell’!!!!

    So for now folat in the cloud nine and perhaps all the drugs they import into this coutnry and the ‘Rupavaini/ITN’ Ehuphoria will keep your make believe dream perpetual.!

    Enjoy while it lasts.!!!

    aj

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    I want ot laugh when I read ariticles like these…. Let’s wait and see what the International Jurists do. Like the rest of the international community, they too might visit here soon and say they are so impressed with the wonder of asia. THese internationals- jurists or whoever, are not a part of the solution. THey are a part of the problem.This regime fears no one because everyone crucial (including the Ex CJ) are actually corrupt.

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    Judges and parliament

    Judicial independence is a vital part of our constitution – even though the UK does not have a written constitution.

    Both Houses of Parliament have the power to petition The Queen for the removal of a judge of the High Court or the Court of Appeal.
    This power originates in the 1701 Act of Settlement and is now contained in section 11(3) of the Supreme Court Act 1981. It has never had to be exercised in England and Wales. It has in fact only been exercised once, when Sir Jonah Barrington was removed from office as a judge of the Irish High Court of Admiralty in 1830 for corruption: he misappropriated funds due to litigants. No English High Court or Court of Appeal judge has ever been removed from office under these powers. Circuit and District Judges can be removed by the Lord Chancellor. However, he can only do so if the Lord Chief Justice agrees. This power has only been exercised twice; once in 1983 when a judge was caught smuggling whisky from Guernsey into England; the other in 2009, for a variety of inappropriate behaviour.

    Turning to other forms of accountability, the sub judice ”rule” prevents the discussion of ongoing cases in Parliament, but, subject to that, the decisions and conduct of individual Judges may be mentioned in debates in either House of Parliament. This does not, however, mean that judges are accountable to Parliament for their decisions in particular cases, save insofar as Parliament may legislate to reverse the effect of a decision or change the law as established or interpreted by a judicial decision.

    It has often been suggested that judges are somehow able to ‘overrule’ legislation, for example if, exercising the power given to them by the Human Rights Act 1998, they declare that a particular law is incompatible with the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights. The question is often framed in terms of ‘ what right do these unelected judges have to overturn the laws set out by elected representatives in Parliament? ”. It is right to suggest that judges are able to rule that the acts of public bodies are unlawful and to decide against the Government in a particular case. Indeed, this is a powerful check on the power of the State against the individual. Many of the examples seen in the media, or commented on by politicians, tend to focus on criminal matters or on Human Rights, but there are many other examples of judicial oversight enabling the State to redress unforeseen outcomes of its own legislation. It is however wrong to suggest that the judiciary can, using the Human Rights Act 1998, overturn legislation. That Act only permits the High Court, the Court of Appeal or the House of Lords/Supreme Court to declare legislation to be incompatible with the Convention rights. A declaration of incompatibility does not strike down legislation or remove it from the statute book, as is the case in some jurisdictions. In the United States, for example, the Supreme Court can declare that legislation is not valid law because it is unconstitutional. Declarations of incompatibility under the 1998 Act, however, leave the validity of the particular law intact. They simply require Parliament to consider amending the law to render it compatible with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. The ultimate decision remains with Parliament and not the judiciary. Ultimately, the judiciary does no more, or less, under the 1998 Act than carry out its constitutional function of interpreting and applying the law enacted by Parliament. They only have such power as Parliament gave them in the Human Rights Act 1998.

    Individual judges may also be invited to give evidence to Parliamentary Committees. In modern times, judges who have been asked to attend have done so voluntarily, subject to the well-established and long-standing rules and conventions that prevent judges from commenting on certain matters. Parliamentary Committees respect these rules and conventions. The prohibited matters include: the merits of government policy (save where the policy in question affects the administration of justice within a judge’s particular area of judicial responsibility); the merits of individual cases or decisions (although particular trials may be used as examples of practice when discussing general policy issues) or of particular serving judicial officers, politicians and other public figures, and the merits, meaning or likely effect of provisions in prospective legislation (in such a way as could be seen to call into question his or her judicial impartiality); and the administration of justice which falls outside his or her area of judicial responsibility or previous responsibility.

    A further important distinction is whether the judge appearing before a Committee is doing so as an individual, called because of that judge’s particular experience or expertise, or is representing the judiciary as a whole. Since the reforms introduced by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 Committees are increasingly interested in the latter type of appearance. A Parliamentary Committee can be an appropriate forum for judges to give their views on current issues affecting the administration of justice and to allow them to comment upon appropriate topics. In recent times the senior judiciary has responded to invitations to comment on the creation of the Ministry of Justice.

    It is, however, is not always straightforward for judges to respond to questions from Parliamentary Committees on current issues, particularly if the atmosphere in which a topic is being considered is “political” and others seek to interpret what is said in a particular way. Care is also needed because judges who comment on an issue might, at a later date, find that they have to adjudicate on that very issue. There is a risk that things said by judges to Parliamentary Committees could lead to the judiciary being perceived as another ‘player’ in the political process, damaging the public’s perception of their impartiality and independence. Judges must be cautious about what they say and also about encouraging any belief that the areas on which it is appropriate for them to be asked to give public comment should be expanded. Indeed, the recent constitutional reforms which increased the separation of the judiciary from the other branches of the state suggests that it may not be appropriate for judges to comment on some matters upon which they have done so in the past

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    So here we are. Judges who hide where the money came from are going against the laws of our land and can be punished … so this woman who was parachuted on to the Bench of the Courts of Sri Lanka is not someone special.. she is just a poule of Chandrika Kumaratunga and in no way merited the place she go. Mohan Pieris has been a member of the bar both official and unofficial since the seventies. So he is not a political parachute jumper.

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