Sri Lanka President says 14 judges badgered him for promotions
ECONOMYNEXT – President Maithripala Sirisena Thursday told parliament that 14 judges were appealing to him to secure their promotions after having been overlooked by the independent Constitutional Council (CC).
The president, attending an adjournment debate on the conduct of the CC, which is empowered to veto presidential appointments to the superior courts and several other key institutions, accused the independent body of wrong-doing.
“Some judges have pleaded with me, not just once, twice, thrice, but four times,” Sirisena said without naming those who canvassed his support to secure promotions.
The president said those vetoed by the CC should have the right to know why they have been rejected.
Sirisena stressed that he was not critical of any of the appointments of the currently serving judges, but felt that those rejected by the CC had been treated unfairly.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who is the chairman of the CC, said he would provide a detailed response to Sirisena’s lengthy statement to the House. Jayasuriya had previously responded to Sirisena’s earlier criticism of the CC.
United National Party (UNP) legislator Sujeewa Senasinghe who spoke from the government side after Sirisena’s statement said there were several inaccuracies in the president’s speech.
Senasinghe noted that the president was critical of senior judges being overlooked, but did not say on what basis he nominated those who were not the most senior in the superior courts.
Earlier in the day, parliament was told by UNP minister Lakshman Kiriella that Court of Appeal judge Deepali Wijesundera was not confirmed as its president because she failed to secure the approval of Chief Justice Nalin Perera.
The CC does not ratify the appointment of any judge who does not receive approval from the Chief Justice.
Earlier this month, Jayasuriya hit back at President Maithripala Sirisena’s sweeping allegations Thursday against the Constitutional Council and the independent Human Rights Council (HRC).
Jayasuriya, as chairman of the Constitutional Council, said Sirisena’s allegation that the CC had rejected 12 of his nominations to the superior courts was misleading.
The president’s assertion that the CC was not recognizing seniority of judges was also incorrect. Jayasuriya said seniority was one of the criteria, but not the sole requirement in deciding promotions in the superior courts.
Earlier this month, Jayasuriya said Sirisena’s previous criticism of the CC’s judicial appointments amounted to casting aspersions of several chief justices and judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal ratified by them.
“In fairness and to protect the dignity of those judges as well as the civil society members of the CC, I must say that all our decisions at the CC have been taken unanimously,” Jayasuriya said.
Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa is also a member of the Council.
Jayasuriya unequivocally rejected Sirisena’s attacks on the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and said it had received international acceptance for its work as an independent watchdog. (COLOMBO, February 21, 2019-SB)