It is learnt that the committee appointed to look into the charges against ousted Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake comprised Professor Mark Cooray, former Central Bank Deputy Governor Ranee Jayamaha, former Parliament Secretary General Dhammika Kithulegoda and Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies Chairman Jeevan Thiagarajah.
It is reliably learnt that certain panelists in their individual recommendations submitted to presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunge had expressed reservations of varying degrees on the charges.
Opposition political parties and senior lawyers yesterday urged the government to reveal the observations made by the independent experts whose opinion was sought by the President on the PSC report and the charges against ousted Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake.
The observations submitted to Mr. Weeratunge included a comprehensive inquiry into both the constitutional provisions of the impeachment and the charges against the Chief Justice.
Daily Mirror also learns that in their observations on the constitutional procedure, certain members had concurred with the determination by the Supreme Court on January 3, stating that “parliament can even now pass a law and recommence the impeachment and use the PSC report as a preliminary fact finding report”.
The President however signed the order to remove the Chief Justice on January 13.
On an earlier occasion, at the opening of a building complex for the Institute of Chartered Accountants at Longden Place, President Rajapaksa said that subsequent to the findings of the PSC, he would appoint an independent panel to advise him because, “I want it to be true to my conscience”.
Daily Mirror also learns that three of the members except for Professor Mark Cooray, met the President, Minister G.L. Peiris and the presidential secretary, during the latter stages of the impeachment saga, for initial discussions on the findings of the PSC.
The members had no wanted to be identified to the media, which resulted in the Government’s cover up of the names of the panelists.
Despite confirmation of three names to Daily Mirror previously, when contacted on Tuesday, presidential spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said the President had decided not to divulge any of the names except that of Professor Cooray.
“There was a senior banker and a former high ranking official of parliament, but I can’t confirm any names because the President at a meeting held with the editors said those in the committee did not wish to be identified” Mr. Samaranayake said on Tuesday.
During Monday evening’s meeting with editors, the President had told those present that four members were appointed to the committee and there were no dissenting views among them.
“This was not a formally appointed committee, it was only a panel appointed to look into the charges and to make recommendations,” Mr. Samaranayake said.
When asked about the recommendations by the Panel, he said the President was advised to follow the due process.
“He was advised to follow the due process according to the Constitution. He was advised that according to the Constitution once parliament submits a motion there is no turning back,” Mr. Samaranayake said.
Commenting on the matter UNP Select Committee Member Lakshman Kiriella said the government has not been honest about anything with regard to the impeachment with the people.
“What happened to this committee that was to be appointed for the President to agree with his conscience? If they were appointed what were their recommendations and why is the government trying to cover up this entire process up, and what is there to hide to the people if this was such a transparent process,” he asked
Meanwhile, Parliament Select Committee Member Vijitha Herath asked what the government was hiding from the people.
“They made a big hue and cry over appointing an independent committee and it looked like eyewash to the people. We as citizens of the country want to know if the Committee was appointed, who were in that committee and what were their recommendations?” he said.
Senior Lawyer S.L. Gunasekara told Daily Mirror that despite the observations by the panel not being legally binding it was of “definite public interest to reveal their observations”.
“Even though the observations of this so called panel has no legal or binding effect, the fact remains that those selected by the President himself to advise him on the so called PSC and the charges against the Dr. Bandaranayake has submitted a report which is of public interest. Why aren’t the people told about this report,” he asked. (Hafeel Farisz)