COLOMBO: The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera are mounting pressure on the controversial Supreme Court Chief Justice, Mohan Peiris, to resign and make way for the re-instatement of his impeached and sacked predecessor, Shirani Bandaranayake.
According to the BASL, on January 9, the day on which it was clear that the incumbent Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, was losing the Presidential election, Pieris was discussing with him ways and means of annulling the result.
“It is reiterated and emphasized that, it is absolutely essential for the Chief Justice and members of the judiciary to remain strictly separate and uninvolved in political and executive decisions,” a BASL statement said. The BASL has since been boycotting the CJ. He was not invited to the Asian Attorneys General Conference here on Monday.
Immediately after assuming office, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera petitioned the CID to probe an attempt by Rajapaksa and his cohorts, including CJ Mohan Peiris, to stage a military-backed coup. Subsequently, the AG had sanctioned the investigation.
While applying psychological pressure, lawyers are also trying to oust Peiris on purely legal grounds. They maintain that there was no vacancy when he was appointed CJ in 2013. Serving Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake had not been removed as per procedure, and therefore, there was no vacancy, argues BASL activist J C Weliamuna.
Explaining the flaw, lawyer and TNA MP, M A Sumanthiran, said that Parliament had not passed an appropriate resolution - a proper address to the President seeking the CJ’s removal on the basis of the findings of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC). What it passed was an old one which had set the impeachment process in motion.
Sumanthiran told Express that he had told parliament about this but the ruling party was in such a hurry, that the flaw was ignored.
“If he does not resign, he can be impeached. But that has to be done as per proper procedure,” said leading attorney K Neelakandan.