9 December, 2019

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SC Rules In Favour Of Setting Guidelines For PC Appointments

By J K Wijedasa –

J K Wijedasa

Supreme Court rules in favour of setting guidelines for President Counsel appointments.

Articles 17 and 126 cited by the petitioner are quoted below:

17. Every person shall be en​​titled to apply to the Supreme Court, as provided by Article 126, in respect of the infringement or imminent infringement, by executive or administrative action, of a fundamental right to which I such person is entitled under the provisions of this Chapter.

126. (1) The Supreme Court shall have sole and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine any question relating to the infringement or imminent infringement by executive or administrative action of any fundamental right or language right declared and recognized by Chapter III or Chapter IV.“

Article 33 (e)

To appoint as President’s Counsel, attorneys-at-law who have reached eminence in the profession and have maintained high standards of conduct and professional rectitude. Every President’s Counsel appointed under this paragraph shall be entitled to all such privileges as were hitherto enjoyed by Queen’s Counsel;

27.(6) The State shall ensure equality of opportunity to citizens, so that no citizen shall suffer any disability on the ground of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion or occupation. 

Conflict of article 33 (e)  and article 27.(6) is evident.  I believe that 27.(6) nullifies 33 (e).

Therefore, recognition afforded to Lawyers (numbering a little over 14000) is discriminatory as other professionals are not considered for such recognition.

Rest of the professionals numbering few hundred thousand are not recognized. These include academics, medical profession, scientists, architects, economists, bankers etc. (Mainly members of OPE) 

The practice of appointment of Queen’s Counsel ceased with the adoption of 1972 constitution on 22nd May 1972. The appellation changed to Senior Attorney-at-Law. 1978 constitution maintained the same position. Prior to the 1972 constitution it was a tradition only, though unfair.

Then 12 years later the 8th Amendment was pushed through on 6th March 1984 empowering the President to appoint President’s Counsel. The amendment mentions the colonial appendage Queen’s Counsel. Don’t we know that we shed shackles of colonialism with 1972 constitution? Lawyers cannot even talk of an unbroken tradition.

Directive Principles of State Policy.

27.(6) The State shall ensure equality of opportunity to citizens, so that no citizen shall suffer any disability on the ground of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion or occupation.

Recognition afforded to Lawyers under the 8th amendment is discriminatory as other professionals are not considered for such recognition.

A LANDMARK fundamental rights petition could be filed by any professional other than a lawyer to do away with the discriminatory practice under the provisions of Articles 17 and 126 of the Constitution. 

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Latest comments

  • 2
    0

    This is an attempt at closing the Stable doors after the horse has bolted!

  • 2
    0

    The general impression is that PC appointments are for lawyers with political clout. Thanks you Mr J K Wijedasa for the information that this is open to all Lankans.
    .
    A nod from Bodu Bala Sena Gnanasara Thero will help and so will a word from Casteist HLD Mahindapala.

  • 6
    0

    The past experience has been if individuals, organisations, groups, entities are allowed to operate to their own devices they will run amok and act out of self interest (the famous saying of JFK “think not what your country can do for you, but think what you can do for your country” seems far fetched for the average Sri Lankan). That is a basic natural human instinct that is hard to change. Therefore more standards, rules and regulations there are to regulate each sphere of operation and activity (e.g. media, public protests etc.) the better it will be. There also need to be bodies to monitor and regulate such activities. We must strive to create a humane society where ‘respect’ for all will be paramount.

    Sadly Sri Lankan society has declined in morals and honour of civic duties and responsibilities. Whatever can be done to improve that should be welcomed. If that means enforced regulation (as opposed to self regulation), so be it.

  • 0
    0

    Are Engineers carefully omitted from the list of professionals in the articles?

    I think it is not OPE but OPA (Organisation of Professional Associations). Engineers are one of the key stakeholders of OPA. But, some of the others mentioned here are not!

    • 0
      0

      OPE intentional PUN.
      O rganisation of
      P rofessionally
      E masculated  for enduring the ignominy. I have highlighted this inconsistency in the press for nearly 20 years. No lawyer ever rebutted my reasoning.

  • 0
    0

    There seems to be a conflict or contrdiction in the article. At the beginning it states, quoted verbatim, “Supreme Court rules in favour of setting guidelines for President Counsel appointments.”. However, at the end it states that, quoted verbatim, “A LANDMARK fundamental rights petition could be filed by any professional other than a lawyer to do away with the discriminatory practice under the provisions of Articles 17 and 126 of the Constitution.”. I must ask a pointed question. Has the Supreme Court already given a verdict on the matter raised as per the beginning of this article? If not what is the point of raising hypothetical issues? I have not forgotten the fact that a particular Attorney at law (Now suspended from the practise) raised on identical line of arguing on issuing car permits those connected with the government. What happened? Won’t the same fate await this hypothetical plaint?

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