Colombo Telegraph

Special Bench Refuses MPs Herath & Sampanthan Their Right To A Hearing In AG’s CJ Impeachment Appeal

The Colombo Telegraph reported yesterday, how 2 opposition Members of Parliament – Vijitha Herath (JVP) and R. Sampanthan (TNA) had appealed to the Supreme Court not to deny them their rights as respondents in the controversial appeal by the Attorney General from the Appeal Court judgment based on a Supreme Court ruling.

Click here for yesterday’s story which contains the background and the full text of the court motion filed by Herath. Sampanthan had also filed a similar motion.

Justice Marsoof

When the case was taken up, lawyers M. A. Sumanthiran and J. C. Weliamuna both told the court that they stand by what is said in their court motions and that even Attorney General Palitha Fernando (PC) who appeared personally earlier should confirm the facts. However Deputy Solicitor General said there was no need for the AG to say anything.

Sumanthiran and Weliamuna told the 5 judges chosen to hear the case by de facto Chief Justice Mohan Pieris (Saleem Marsoof (PC), Chandra Ekanayake, Sathya Hettige, Eva S. Wanasundara and Rohini Marasinghe), that if the judges cannot remember, the court should listen to the recording of the relevant day’s proceedings which would confirm the truth of what they say. However Marsoof responded by saying that there may not be a recording of that day’s proceedings. Proceedings are normally recorded so that whether what the court stenographers have written is accurate can be checked. Mikes and recording machines have been there for years for this purpose and is used daily.

The Supreme Court abruptly refused the appeal of Herath and Sampanthan without going into the matter and fixed the appeal for final hearing on 26.09.2013 based only on AG’s submissions. This is against the normal practice in other appeals.

The Colombo Telegraph contacted a senior political analyst, who said that the move by the judges was not acceptable or transparent. He argued that what is said in the court motions is so serious that if it is true the wrong order should be cancelled and a fresh order made allowing Herath and Sampanthan to make submissions. The judges should also explain how the error took place for transparency. In the same way, if what the lawyers are saying is false, then they should be severely punished for contempt of court. In any case, clearly an open inquiry should be held, he concluded. He felt that the court proceeding audio recording going missing gave a ground for a reasonable suspicion that the lawyers are right.

The Colombo Telegraph checked with some independent sources who were in the court house on that day. They also confirmed that the facts in the motion about what happened in the Supreme Court are correct.

According to very reliable sources the judges are under great pressure from the Rajapaksa regime to quickly whitewash the disregarding of the earlier court rulings by pronouncing that the court rulings were wrong, before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which is to be held at the end of the year in Sri Lanka.

The Colombo Telegraph tried to contact the Supreme Court Registrar to find out about the recording. The person answering the phone claimed the Registrar is not there but any message could be given. When asked about where the recordings are and whether a copy could be listened to, she kept saying “We can’t give anything without asking CJ. Please ask him ok.”

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