SPOTLIGHT on new appointment to Supreme Court

5 May 2014 09:45 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The recent appointment to the Supreme Court has created controversy among those in the legal and judicial fraternity.

Priyantha Jayawardena PC who is to be appointed to the Supreme Court is not a name that many of those in the legal fraternity are familiar with.  Therefore the call from the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, intellectuals and others is that there should be a prescribed procedure for such appointments instead of ad- hoc appointments to Sri Lanka’s apex court. This is not the first instance where an appointment by the executive has been disputed. During the appointment of ousted Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake to the Supreme Court, several distinguished lawyers filed actions against it but they  were overruled by the Supreme Court.

However, the previous disputes were against the procedural flaws in the making of the appointment.

To fulfil this end the Daily Mirror has opened its pages to Political leaders, academics and leading lawyers regarding both the manner in which appointments are made, and their opinion on the appointment itself.

In recognition of his skill, competence and integrity, he was appointed as a President’s Counsel by the President, and called to the inner Bar in the year 2012

 



























Senior PCs want a man like me

Priyantha Jayawardena PC


“I was offered this appointment long time ago about a year or so ago, but I refused the offer then. However,most of the senior President’s Counsel have persuaded me to accept it this time, and they have insisted that people like me should be in the judiciary.”  

“Joining the judiciary is comparatively,  financially very curtailing but I can afford to accept it that because my children are grown up. I am a person who is capable to take up appontment. Many senior counsel advised me that it is people like me from the bar who should go there. I know the difficulties faced by the members of the bar.  When asked about the concerns raised by various parities including Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), the body representing legal fraternity he said, “ I am not here to talk about other people. I am not a person who would refer to people and criticise or praise people. I do mind only my
business. 

 


Every MP who voted for the 18th Amendement must take blame

Dr. Jayampathi Wickremerathne PC


Dr. Jayampathi Wickremerathne PC a leading authority on constitutional law, speaking to the Daily Mirror said that the country is now witnessing the ‘ill effects of the 18th amendment’.

“ There have been controversial appointments made by successive governments to the judiciary. Some of these appointments that were opposed by the bar later turned out to be good appointments. There have also been instances where appointments welcomed by the bar and the public did not live up to the general expactations. The appointment of Neville Samarakone who was an executive committee member of the UNP is a case point. He turned out to be one of the most independent judges.

However, there needs to be national consensus among all parties and the general public in appointments to posts such as Judges of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General and the Elections Commissioner. It was in view of this fact that a Constitutional Council was created where all political parties and various ethnic groups were represented and the Constituional Council thus established worked well. The 18th amendment did away with all this and it was a very big dissapintment.

 there needs to be national consensus among all parties and the general public in appointments to posts such as Judges of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General and the Elections Commissioner


What we are now witnessing are the ill effects of the 18th Amendment. Under the 17th Amendment such controversies would not have arisen. The 18th Amendment is a big mistake and the Government which brought it and every MP who voted for the 18th amendment should take the entire blame for the predicament we as a country are now faced with.
 


‘President appoints whom he likes’

Senior Constititional lawyer, R. K. W. Gunasekara


“As for the latest appointment, I don’t know whether it is good or a bad,  because I don’t know Mr. Jayawardena,”.

Appointing Supreme Court judges from the Judiciary, Attorney General’s Department and the unofficial bar has always been the practice. And there have been many instances where the unofficial bar has produced good judges. So there is nothing to say that you must appoint Supreme Court Judges only from the judiciary.
“There should be such a criteria. Unfortunately there is nothing like that,” Gunasekara said when asked about the qualification and criteria of appointing persons to the apex court.

There should be such a criteria. Unfortunately there is nothing like that


“The appointing person the President,  consults whomever he likes,  whereas the recomendation should be by the Constitutional Council. But now there is no Constitutional Council, instead the President  appoints whoever he likes.”


“Death blow to judiciary”

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake


Public institutions like the Inland Revenue Department, the Customs Department and the Auditor General’s Department have been pressurized by the Executive arm of the government. To continue with the on-going dictatorial move, there were massive blows on the independence of the judiciary. For this, Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was impeached and in her place Mohan Peiris who was serving as the Chairman of the Seylan Bank was appointed.  The posts of President’s Counsel are being offered to those close to the government, while this regime is interfering with judicial appointments.  At present there are three appointments to the Supreme Court to be filled and we are aware that there is an attempt to fill them with political supporters of the ruiling coalition.

This is a clear move to appoint those who act according to the whims and fancies of the rulers to the judiciary


“This is a clear move to appoint those who act according to the whims and fancies of the rulers to the judiciary and make it another institution that carries out the wishes of the Executive President.” We urge everyone who respects democratic values to get together to fight against  this.


“Appointment is against SC ruling,”

Sarath N.  Silva

Raising concern over the legal validity of the move to appoint Priyantha Jayawardena PC to the Supreme Court former Chef Justice Sarath N. Silva said according to an existing Supreme Court ruling the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court should be done only on the recommendation of either the Chief Justice, the Minister of Justice or the Attorney General.

The Opposition must attend the Parliamentary Council

 

He said this was according to Justice Mark Fernando’s judgment in the case filed against the appointment of Shirani Bandaranayake to the Supreme Court in 1996.  The Supreme Court upheld the argument raised by him (Sarath N. Silva) who was then the Attorney General and supported the appointment of Justice Bandaranayake. He said that in the case  of the latest appointment it was unlikely that any of these three persons had recommended Mr. Jayawardena.  He also blamed the main opposition the United National Party (UNP) for not participating in the Parliamentary Council and protesting against these appointments.  The Opposition must attend the Parliamentary Council and make strong protests and make the people aware of such wrong appointments
 


Following is a ‘career brief’ of Priyantha Jayawardena PC-circulated to the media
 

Mr. Priyantha Jayawardena, President’s Counsel, the newly appointed Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, is due to take his oaths  before President Mahinda Rajapaksa shortly.

Having completed his primary and secondary education, Mr. Jayawardena  joined Sri Lanka Law College. After he passed out from the Law Collage he apprenticed with late Mr. Eardley Perera P.C. and Mr. Ranjit Abeysuriya P.C. During  this period he also  worked as a Research Assistant to the Late. Justice Mark Fernando and the Late Justice P. Ramanathan, two very illustrious judges of the then Supreme Court  and was enrolled as an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court in the year 1988.

During his career as a Private Legal Practitioner, Mr. Jayawardena has worked  in the chambers of a number of legal luminaries of our time including Mr. S.L.Gunasekera, Mr. Ranjith Abeysuriya P.C., and Mr. D.S. Wijesinghe P.C., whilst establishing a strong practice in his own right in the areas of Labour Law, Commercial Law and Public and Constitutional Law.

In recognition of his skill, competence and integrity, he was appointed as a President’s Counsel by the President, and called to the inner Bar in the year 2012



Mr. Jayawardena obtained a Masters Degree in Commercial Law from the University of Aberdeen in U.K. He also passed the Qualified Lawyers’ Transfer Test conducted by the College of London in the year 1993 and later enrolled as a Solicitor in England and Wales.

Upon returning to Sri Lanka pursuant to obtaining higher qualifications, he re-joined the Attorney-General’s Department and in the year 1994 he was appointed as a State Counsel.  Whilst Mr. Jayawardena was serving the Attorney Generals Department he followed a Course in Commercial Law at the National University of Singapore in the year 1999.

During his tenure at the Attorney General’s Department, Mr. Jayawardena also worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during the period the Late Mr. Lakshman Kadiragamar was the Minister, in assisting the Ministry with the resolution of the investment disputes.  Further, he also served as a Consultant to the Ministry of Food, Internal and International Trade and Commerce in which capacity he prepared the initial drafts of the Consumer Affairs Authority Act No.9 of 2003.  He also served as a member of the Advisory Commission on Intellectual Property Law Office and a member of the Colombo Port Privatisation Legal Team.

 Mr. Jayawardena   returned to the Unofficial Bar in the year 2000 and commenced practicing there.  During this time he was appointed as a consultant to many institutions. In his capacity as Legal Consultant to the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects, he advised the Institute on drafting its regulations which were promulgated in the year 2005 and are in force to date.  He was a Committee Member of the Core Group on Information Technology Law mandated with drafting of legislation on Information Technology, E-Commerce and Data Protection, and was one of the key minds behind the Electronic Transactions Act No. 19 of 2006.

He has also served as an Examiner and Tutor of Commercial Law of the Council of Legal Education, as a Visiting lecturer at the University of Moratuwa [Department of Building Economics], and at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management.

He has a number of publications and papers to his credit and addressed a number of local and international seminars including the UNCTAD Regional Round Table Conference held in Colombo on e-Commerce and Development for Asia Pacific Countries [October 1999 – “A New Legal Framework for e-Commerce”]
In recognition of his skill, competence and integrity, he was appointed as a President’s Counsel by the President, and called to the inner Bar in the year 2012.
 


Bar Association to examine Mr. Jayawardena’s bio-data
 

The Executive Committee of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) is to meet today and to examine the career brief circulated in the media, claiming there were “discrepancies” in the brief.  

A spokesman for the BASL said some of the courses and qualifications mentioned in the career brief circulated in the media were questionable. “We are examining his bio-data.

The BASL said some of the courses and qualifications mentioned in the career brief circulated in the media were questionable
 




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