Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in a statement with serious implications for the independence, integrity and stature of the judiciary has spoken dismissively and derisively of Chief Justice Priyasath Dep.
Addressing Parliament in the aftermath of Ravi Karunanayake’s resignation, the Prime Minister describing an injustice done to the Chief Justice while he was in the Attorney General’s Department, referred to him as ‘e miniha’ (or ‘ඒ මිනිහ – that man’): ‘because “that man” had criticized the then government when he was Additional Solicitor General, he was not appointed as the Attorney General but was “put” to the Supreme Court (shreshtaadhikaranayata damma – ශ්රේෂ්ඨාධිකරණයට දැම්ම ).”
Thereafter Wickremesinghe flippantly attributed the elevation of Justice Dep to the position of Chief Justice to fortuitous configuration of astral entities: ‘grahaya honda nisa miniha aga vinishchakaaraya una’ (ග්රහය හොඳ නිසා මිනිහ අගවිනිශ්චයකාරය උනා – ‘because the planetary positions were in his favor the man became Chief Justice’).
The casual and dismissive manner of this reference clearly demeans the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court and indeed the entire judicial system, according to close observers of parliamentary debates, established procedures and what could constitute contempt of court.
Wickremesinghe’s allusion clearly implies that the appointment to the Supreme Court had little to do with competence and that even the appointment as Chief Justice was more astrological than anything else.
Colombo Telegraph notes also that if this flippancy on the part of Wickremesinghe is ignored by the court then it paves the way for anyone to be as dismissive and derisive of the Chief Justice and since he is at the pinnacle of the judicial system any other judge.
Watch Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe‘s speech here: