A “Special Bench” to take up the cases challenging the steps taken by the Rajapaksa regime to oust Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake from functioning in her office by adopting the findings of a kangaroo style Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), disregarding and flouting court rulings of the Supreme Court and Appeal Court, the Colombo Telegraph can reveal today.
The following bench has been set up for tomorrow (16.07.2013) ;
COURT ROOM 403 (AT.10.00 AM)
HON. SALEEM MAROOF (P.C.) J
HON. CHANDRA EKANAYAKE J
HON. SATHYA HETTIGE (P.C.) J
HON. S. EVA WANASUNDERA (P.C.) J
HON. ROHINI MARASINGHE J
TO BE MENTIONED
1 SC APPLICATION (FR) 665/2012
SC APPLICATION (FR) 666/2012
SC APPLICATION (FR) 667/2012
SC APPLICATION (FR) 672/2012 WITH
SC APPLICATION (FR) 23/2013
2 SC APPEAL 67/2013 – WITH
SC SPECIAL LA 24/2013 – CA 411/2012
FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED
1 SC APPLICATION (FR) 23/2013
Several parties asking to intervene in several of these cases are trying to get the disregarded court rulings reversed, in what is seen by many as an effort to try and give some appearance of legitimacy to the locally and internationally widely condemned act of disregard of judicial rulings, with de facto Chief Justice Mohan Pieris now in charge of the judiciary.
In this situation, lawyers appearing for parties challenging the illegal installation of Pieris as de facto Chief Justice had submitted to the Supreme Court that ALL judges of the Supreme Court must sit together and decide these very important cases, without Pieris or anyone else chosen by Pieris (or President Mahinda Rajapaksa) deciding which judges hear the cases and which judges don’t. They told the court on previous dates that according to the established jurisprudence in many countries, it is the duty of all judges (except Pieris whose status as a judge is itself in question in the proceedings) to rule on such a matter and that if any judge has any personal difficulty or reservation to do so, the only correct/proper way to withdraw from this duty (called in legal jargon as ‘recusal’) would be to come on the bench and declare it publicly so that the parties to the case would know the reason and also be able to make any relevant submissions on that aspect. The lawyers had urged that this is very specially important in these cases, since they involve matters of highest importance to judicial integrity. It was revealed in open court on previous dates that Pieris had been making various directions on the journals of the cases (called as ‘journal entries’).
Now, only the above five judges are listed to be specially sitting for the cases. Out of them, Hettige is a known close associate of the Rajapaksa regime, through whom he got his appointment to judiciary from Attorney General’s Department. His name had earlier been rejected several times by the Constitutional Council before it ceased to function. The Constitutional Council became defunct due to firstly President Chandrika Kumaratunga and thereafter President Mahinda Rajapaksa not making appointments under the 17th Amendment after the term of the original members expired. Later, Rajapaksa rushed through the 18th Amendment which removed the judicial independence safeguard mechanism of the Constitutional Council from the Constitution altogether. It has been reported that President Rajapaksa has been a regular guest at parties organized by Hettige even after being appointed a judge. Marasinghe was recently promoted, overlooking the more senior S. Sriskandaraja, President of the Appeal Court. She was reported in the press during the controversial impeachment of Chief Justice Bandaranayake, as having written and criticized the judges who ruled that the PSC findings were illegally arrived at.
A very senior President’s Counsel contacted by Colombo Telegraph, said that unless all the judges of the Supreme Court do their duty by sitting for the case and deciding on this very important matter giving reasons in the open court if they cannot for any reason (however uncomfortable or dangerous it may be for them), they would be failing to defend independence of the judiciary and its credibility. Even he asked not to be named.