Wanasundara, with a legal carrier spanning nearly 39 years, is currently the most senior Supreme Court judge and she is likely to replace Priyasath Depp who is retiring from office this week.
President Maithripala Sirisena’s first choice for the position was Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya who argued at one point that Sirisena could continue in office for six years, despite the five-year limit imposed by the 19th Amendment to the constitution.
However, top government sources told Colombo Telegraph on Saturday that Wanasundara had overtaken Jayasuriya to become the front-runner in what seems to be a ‘Chief Justice race’.
It is still not entirely clear whether the sudden shift happened due to Jayasuriya’s reluctance to accept the post or a last-minute lobby orchestrated by Jayasundara.
However, Wanasundara’s close personal relationship with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family has raised concerns in some quarters of the government, Colombo Telegraph learns.
Wanasundara, in an interview with ‘Deshaya newspaper’ in July 2014, publicly admitted that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was one of her closest friends during the ‘Law College Days’.
In the same interview, Wanasundara said, “I was suddenly called up to Temple Trees by President Rajapaksa. He just asked me to drop by at Temple Trees on my way home after work. I was surprised at this gesture but went to meet the President nevertheless. Upon greeting me, the President said he was going to appoint me a Supreme Court judge and asked if I had any concerns. I was shocked by the sudden announcement. At the same time, I felt so happy as I always wanted to become a judge and suddenly, the person in front me was offering exactly what I wanted.”
Further explaining the level of her close friendship with Rajapaksa, Wanaasundara said, “One day, one of my colleagues had shown a picture of me to another friend saying he had an affair with me. Mahinda, a close friend of mine then, had seen this incident. He promptly conveyed this to me as he was concerned that it could bring me a ‘bad name'”
There were allegations that Wanasundara soft-pedalled several cases involving the members of the former first family, especially former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, due to her alleged connection with the former President.