COLOMBO: The sacked Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, Mohan Peiris, said on Saturday, that his removal from office by President Sirisena earlier in the week, was unconstitutional, and that he has had to succumb to injustice and undue street level pressure.
“I have not retired, resigned or vacated my office of Chief Justice, but, due to exertions by external forces reinforced by an extra judicial chain of events, find myself displaced from office by an unconstitutional process having functioned continuously in my appointment for over two years,” Peiris said in a statement.
“I abhor and despise and do not encourage the enactment of street dramas or of invoking vengeance by resorting to horrific practices of the occult or encourage rabble rousing on pavements by a few members of the legal fraternity,” Peiris said in his statement.
“Offering patronage to such events demeans the office of the Chief Justice. It promotes division within the Bar for selfish gains. I look upon myself as a Chief Justice and a citizen, who was empowered to carry out the solemn duty of ensuring the sovereignty of the people in the midst of great institutions such as the Judiciary and the Bar. These Institutions must retain their dignity - not for a passing hour or a day of glory and must not descend to a pedestrian level,” he said.
Justice K Sripavan took oaths as the 44th Chief Justice of SL before President Sirisena, replacing Shirani Bandaranayake who had retired just a day after being reinstated in that position.
Peiris pointed out in his statement that he was appointed to the post of Chief Justice after his predecessor Bandaranayake was removed by the required Parliamentary majority (155 to 49) in January 2013. President Rajapaksa had appointed him by a warrant to the post of Chief Justice on January 15, 2013, with the concurrence of the Parliamentary Council. Peiris maintained that the parliamentary ruling was “final and conclusive” and those who exercised their vote on the same are “debarred” from contesting its validity.
“It is significant that Hon Rajitha Senaratne was a member of panel of inquiry that probed the charges against Dr S Bandaranayake and found her unanimously guilty with the other members on some charges and acquitted on others and The Hon President Maithripala Sirisena spoke and voted in favour of the removal of the former Chief Justice,” Peiris pointed out.
“This is quite contrary to the position taken up now that my appointment was purportedly void ab initio. I am saddened that this machination comes after attempts to coerce me and later intimidate me into stepping down,” he said.
“It must be noted that I could only have been removed from Office in terms of the specific provisions contained in Article 107 (2) of the Constitution after an address of Parliament,” he said. Impeachment by parliament is the only way to remove the Chief Justice. Peiris had been removed by executive action without an impeachment.
“This violates the principle of the separation of powers which is a fundamental feature of our Constitution and renders the exercise futile. As such all consequential acts will be tainted with illegality,” Peiris said.