President Maithripala Sirisena‘s brazen attempts to manipulate the Judiciary are underway with Sirisena delaying the appointments of two new Supreme Court judges whose names have been approved by the Constitutional Council.
Two new judges – namely S. Thurairaja and Gamini Amarasekera – are yet to take oaths as Supreme Court judges although two positions on the bench remain vacant. The two judges, promoted from the Court of Appeal, have unblemished track records and have not been accused of political bias thus far.
The Constitutional Council selected them from the four names presented to the council by the President. One other name that was recommended by the President was Deepali Wijesundera, the judge who convicted Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka in a politically orchestrated trial under the Rajapaksa rule. The Constitutional Council declined to endorse her appointment.
Sirisena’s resistance to appointing the two new judges comes ahead of the hearing of a crucial case, in which the apex court will determine the legality of his move to dissolve Parliament prematurely and declare snap elections.
While Sirisena is deliberately delaying the appointments of two new judges, the Attorney General, on the instructions of President, has asked for a fuller bench to determine on the constitutionality of the dissolution of Parliament.
Suspicions have been raised in the legal circles if the Attorney General’s move is aimed at getting partisan and corrupt judges to hear a crucial case that will have a lasting impact on the country’s Parliamentary democracy.
One such judge is Eva Wanasundara whose questionable links with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was exposed by Colombo Telegraph in a recent article.
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, Wanasundara 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 Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa, due to her alleged connection with the former President.