The Supreme Court has by clearing most of the clauses of the 20th Amendment Bill aided and abetted the murder of Sri Lankan democracy and also the independence of the judiciary, a senior lawyer told Colombo Telegraph on the condition of anonymity. The only positive feature of the determination was holding that the restoring the immunity of the President needs a Referendum, the lawyer said. That, in his opinion, was because it was too obvious. “The Supreme Court determination shows that they do not consider anymore that they have a reputation to safeguard,” he added.
“We are going back to Mohan Pieris days. The difference is that Mohan Pieris conducted the court in that way because of his allegiance to the Rajapaksas. He unashamedly even went to Medamulana to greet the President with a sheaf of betel for Sinhala New Year, something no Chief Justice has done. But the present judges are doing this out of fear for the Rajapaksas. They remember what happened to Shirani Bandaranayake. They are offering bulath from Hultsdorp”, he explained.
A legal academic told Colombo Telegraph that the Supreme Court saying that the President can remove the Prime Minister as he is the appointing authority showed to what depths the court has fallen. “The President cannot appoint any MP as PM. He has no discretion. He must appoint the MP who has the confidence of Parliament. If the power to remove a PM who has a clear majority in Parliament is not an unfettered power, what is unfettered power? The Supreme Court’s judgments are full of pronouncements that there is nothing called unfettered discretion and that giving such arbitrary power is against the rule of law and democracy. This is an insult to great judges like Samarakoon CJ, Sharvananda CJ and Justices Mark Fernando and Ranjith Amarasinghe who developed Sri Lankan public law jurisprudence,” the academic said.
“The Supreme Court has said OK to appointments to the judiciary without checks and balances brought first by the 17th Amendment and restored by the 19th Amendment. But soon, any Dick, Tom or Harry can be appointed to the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal as we saw under JRJ. It will be the same with the JSC. Under the 19th Amendment, the Chief Justice, the senior most Judge of the Supreme Court and the next most senior Judge of such Court, who has had experience as a Judge of a Court of First Instance, are members of the Judicial Service Commission. The President may remove a member of the JSC only with the approval of the Constitutional Council under the 19th Amendment. Under the 20th Amendment, the President can appoint any two judges of the Supreme Court to the JSC. There is no necessity to appoint a member with experience in the original courts. Any member of the JSC can be removed by the President. I never expected the Supreme Court to say yes to this. This is collective suicide,” a senior retired judge told Colombo Telegraph. (By Ranmal Weerasekera)