I read in the media about CJ Mohan Pieris’s demand that if he were to resign he should be compensated with a post of a diplomat. Although I am a layman in the field of judicial matters, common sense makes me raise the question whether he has ever proved himself qualified to hold the post of a diplomat or for that matter even the post of Chief Justice.
Everyone knows that a judge is duty bound to uphold the independence and the integrity of the judiciary. Never should a judge allow himself to be influenced by his personal political preferences. A judicial officer is bound by the nature of his office to win the confidence of people.
In the case of Chief Justice Mr. Mohan Pieris, we are compelled to question whether he had met the above standards. The loss of confidence in him arose from his own inappropriate conduct as reported in the media.
The media exposed his participation in the new year celebration of the Rajapaksa family, his visit to the Vatican in the company of President Rajapaksa and his presence at the Temple trees in the early hours of the 9th of January when the results were being announced.
If Mr. Pieris has never denied any of these allegations, he should be interpreted to have admitted that he has contravened the code of conduct prescribed for a judicial officer.
Add to this the fact that he has now been questioned by the Police, a thing that has never happened in the history of Sri Lanka.
All this proves his close collaboration with the former President. Does the office of Chief Justice allow such familiarity with a politician? When one assumes the office of judge, one cannot allow oneself to be dictated by what one desires. One’s behaviour is restrained by the obligations of his office. The office of a judge demands impartiality because “not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done.”
In my view he seems to have failed on all these counts. The only alternative left for him is voluntary resignation. If for some reason he does not resign, the citizens of this country need to act. The foundation of democracy rests on the sovereignty of the people. As the famous adage goes, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”