Azath Salley, former Central Provincial Council member speaking to a Colombo Telegraph has confirmed that the President has assured him that he would not interfere in the Constitutional Council’s selection of the President of the Court of Appeal.
Earlier, in a blatant disregard of the independence of the Constitutional Council and the Judiciary, the President’s Office had requested the nomination of the 3rd person in the seniority list, Justice P R Walgama for consideration as the new President of the Court of Appeal. The current President of the Court of Appeal Justice Vijith K Malalgoda PC, was promoted as a judge of the Supreme Court last week, hence the vacancy.
This caused a major crisis, threatening the independence of the Judiciary by the interference of the President’s Office. The Judicial Services Commission too was up in arms on the forced nomination to name the 3rd most senior person, ignoring two senior judges Deepali Wijesundara and Justice A H M D Nawaz. A reliable source says that there has been opposition from the Government to the appointment of Justice Deepali Wijesundara. She, as President of the Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar, convicted former Army Commander, Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka to three years imprisonment in the ‘white flag’ case due to pressure by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Justice A H M D Nawaz has acted as the President, Court of Appeal when he was sworn in by President Maithripala Sirisena on October 26th, 2016 during the brief absence of Justice Vijith K Malalgoda PC when he was out of the country.
The Constitutional Council headed by Karu Jayasuriya has the authority to reject the nomination. The other members of the Constitutional Council include Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the Oppostion R. Sampanthan, Ministers Champika Ranawaka, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, John Seneviratne, JVP Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath, senior Civil Society leader A. T. Ariyaratne, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy and Former Solicitor General and President’s Counsel Shibly Aziz.
Judges of the Court of Appeal as per seniority-
Justice Deepali Wijesundera
Justice A.H.M.D. Nawaz
Justice P.R. Walgama
Justice M.M.A. Gaffoor
Justice H.C.J. Madawala
Justice L.T.B. Dehideniya
Justice K.K. Wickremasinghe
Justice S. Devika de L.Tennekoon
Justice P. Padman Surasena
Justice L.U. Jayasuriya
Justice S. Thurairaja P.C
JURISDICTION OF THE COURT
Subject to the provisions of the Constitution and of any law, the Court is vested with the following jurisdiction – Appeals from the High Court in the exercise of its appellate or original* jurisdiction (Article 139) Appeals from any court of first instance and any tribunal or other institution. Sole and exclusive cognizance by way of appeal, revision and restitution Power and authority to inspect and examine records of any court of first instance (Article 145) Jurisdiction to grant and issue according to law, writs of certiorari, prohibition, procedendo, mandamus and quo warranto (Article 140) other than matters relating to the exercise of the powers of the Elections Commission established under Article 103 of the Constitution (as amended by the 17th Amendment) Jurisdiction to grant and issue writs of habeas corpus (Article 141). Jurisdiction to grant Injunctions (Article 143) Jurisdiction to try election petitions in respect of the election of Members of Parliament (Article 144) *Appeals from judgments, sentences and orders pronounced at a High Court Trial at Bar lie direct to the Supreme Court by virtue of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, No. 21 of 1988