Sources in Hulfsdorp expressed amusement at the sight of the recently appointed President’s Counsel being ‘summoned’ to meet the President on July 26th (yesterday.)
According to the President’s official website, this was following a ‘tradition’ for them to meet the President after they were appointed as President’s Counsels.
However a senor lawyer and President’s Counsel of an older generation, speaking to Colombo Telegraph explained that there was no such tradition at all. None of us ever were called to meet either past President JR Jayewardene, past President Ranasinghe Premadasa or even former President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
“These are not state appointments but discretionary ‘honours’ so why are these lawyers being asked to come like this?” he asked.
“The person who started this was former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In fact, he got all the PCs appointed by him to come and sit in the Supreme Court like tame puppies when the 18th Amendment was being approved by the Court, also acting under his dictation. Now it seems that President Sirisena also wants to show who is the boss” he said.
The appointments of PCs by President Sirisena a few months ago attracted criticism on the basis that they were given to political favourites. The list also did not include a single female senior lawyer though Colombo Telegraph understands that several had applied. In addition, heavy public criticism was directed against some of the PCs including activist JC Weliamuna who held extravagant parties at five star hotels to celebrate this appointment despite two hundred flood victims dying on the same day due to the massive floods that swept Sri Lanka at the time and lawyer Saliya Pieris (also appointed a PC on the same list) who defended the holding of the parties. Both Pieris and Weliamuna attended yesterday’s meeting summoned by the President. Peiris also serves as a member of Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission.
State media reports said that the PCs were asked to meet the President so that he could ask them to contribute a greater service to the country through their knowledge and experience in the field. President Sirisena had said that he wished them to carry out their professional work independently.
“If that was the intention, it would have been better if he had never summoned them at all for this was the opposite impression that was created by this meeting” said an activist involved in the ‘yahapalaya’ movement which backed the President in 2015. “We are just repeating the past,” he said.