Colombo Telegraph

WikiLeaks: The Only Supreme Court Justice Who Dares Challenge Sarath Silva Is Shirani Bandaranayake

By Colombo Telegraph

“Aziz told us that never in the judiciary’s history has there been a chief justice with such absolute control over the rest of the country’s judges. Aziz and Pieris said De Silva is charismatic, cunning, and vindictive, as well as one of the great legal minds of Sri Lanka, making him the last person anybody wants to challenge. From the Supreme Court down to the Magistrate Courts, De Silva dominates. Although there are 11 other Supreme Court justices, the Chief Justice chooses which ones sit on a given bench (usually consisting of three judges per case). Aziz said De Silva picks the most compliant judges regardless of their seniority.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington. 

Silva

A Leaked “CONFIDENTIAL” US diplomatic cable, dated June 27, 2007, updated the Secretary of State on Sri Lanka’s Judiciary under the Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva details Silva’s judicial behaviour. The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable was written by the charge d’affairs James R. Moore.

The cable which details the US meetings with a former Attorney General, Shibly Aziz and a prominent private attorney, Saliya Pieris.

Under the subheading “Only De  Silva Matters”   James R. Moore wrote ” Pieris told us that even when De Silva is not personally on the bench, the Supreme Court justices make decisions approved by De Silva. Pieris said the only Supreme Court justice who dares challenge De Silva, Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake who is second in seniority, has now been marginalized. Aziz and Pieris point to the small number of dissenting opinions written during De Silva’s tenure as further evidence of his dominance.”

“Pieris also said that De Silva uses punishments and rewards to get what he wants. Pieris claimed he disbars lawyers who criticize him and withholds career opportunities from his adversaries. Transparency International noted in its 2007 report on Sri Lanka: “Judges who do not tow the political line are warned, and if incorrigible, are dismissed on one pretext or another. Conversely, judges who are politically in line with the administration are shielded from disciplinary action despite evidence of corrupt practices, including bribe taking…” Although no one openly opposes him, Pieris said, judges at all levels privately say they are unhappy.” Moore further wrote.

We below give the relevant part of the cable;

 

VZCZCXRO7207
OO RUEHBI RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLM #0920/01 1781329
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 271329Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6359
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 0479
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0240
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 7223
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 5328
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3868
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1142
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 3941
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3025
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 7811
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 5467
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0279
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2163
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 000920 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS
MCC FOR D NASSIRY AND E BURKE 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/25/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PHUM MOPS CE
SUBJECT: AMBITIOUS CHIEF JUSTICE BREAKS AWAY FROM PRESIDENT 

REF: A. (A) COLOMBO 00824
     ¶B. (B) COLOMBO 00265
     ¶C. (C) COLOMBO 00152 

Classified By: charge d'affairs James R. Moore, for reasons 1.4(b,d). 

¶1. (C) SUMMARY:  In a shift from regularly supporting the
President in its rulings, the Supreme Court, headed by Chief
Justice Sarath De Silva, made several decisions this month
that the public widely hailed as justice served by a newly
independent judiciary.  Legal experts say, however, that
while they are also pleased with the recent rulings, they are
less the result of an improved judiciary, than a product of
De Silva's political ambitions and new alliances.  Earlier in
the year, international organizations expressed concerns over
De Silva's influence over the judiciary in annual reports and
recommended inquiries into the allegations that De Silva
unfairly manipulated decisions.  Though he would like to, it
is unlikely the President will be able to oust De Silva
before he retires from the Court in 2009.  Meanwhile, legal
observers continue to worry about De Silva's potential impact
on the judiciary and the peace process.   End Summary
ONLY DE SILVA MATTERS 

COLOMBO 00000920  003 OF 004 

--------------------- 

¶6. (C)  Aziz told us that never in the judiciary's history
has there been a chief justice with such absolute control
over the rest of the country's judges.  Aziz and Pieris said
De Silva is charismatic, cunning, and vindictive, as well as
one of the great legal minds of Sri Lanka, making him the
last person anybody wants to challenge.  From the Supreme
Court down to the Magistrate Courts, De Silva dominates.
Although there are 11 other Supreme Court justices, the Chief
Justice chooses which ones sit on a given bench (usually
consisting of three judges per case).  Aziz said De Silva
picks the most compliant judges regardless of their
seniority.  Pieris told us that even when De Silva is not
personally on the bench, the Supreme Court justices make
decisions approved by De Silva.   Pieris said the only
Supreme Court justice who dares challenge De Silva, Dr.
Shirani Bandaranayake who is second in seniority, has now
been marginalized.  Aziz and Pieris point to the small number
of dissenting opinions written during De Silva's tenure as
further evidence of his dominance. 

¶7. (C)  Pieris also said that De Silva uses punishments and
rewards to get what he wants.  Pieris claimed he disbars
lawyers who criticize him and withholds career opportunities
from his adversaries.  Transparency International noted in
its 2007 report on Sri Lanka: "Judges who do not tow the
political line are warned, and if incorrigible, are dismissed
on one pretext or another.  Conversely, judges who are
politically in line with the administration are shielded from
disciplinary action despite evidence of corrupt practices,
including bribe taking..."  Although no one openly opposes
him, Pieris said, judges at all levels privately say they are
unhappy.
Related posts;

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