The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said yesterday President Maithripala Sirisena should not have exercised his executive powers arbitrarily when pardoning Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera, who was jailed after being found guilty of contempt of court charges.
It said it was an act based on irrelevant consideration.
In a statement, the BASL said it was deeply concerned by the recent act of granting a presidential pardon to a monk who was serving a sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal for Contempt of Court committed in the presence of the Homagama Magistrate.
“It is relevant to note that the Court of Appeal exercises jurisdiction in respect of Contempt of Court in terms of Article 105 (1) of the Constitution. Laws of contempt exist to protect the Judiciary from unwarranted interference with its authority and to protect the Judiciary from attacks against its independence and authority,” the BASL said.
The statement signed by BASL President Kalinga Indatissa PC said though the executive powers vested in the President through the Constitution is unquestionable, the exercise of this power should be based on sound legal principles and reasoning.
“Any departure from these considerations would shake the very foundations of the Rule of Law and shock the conscience of those who value an independent Judiciary. The BASL is gravely concerned of this power being exercised in such a manner. We hold the view that the power of pardon granted under the Constitution should not be exercised in an arbitrary and a capricious manner, without consulting the vital stakeholders, namely the Court, which imposed the sentence and the honorable Attorney General,” the BASL said. “Being mindful of the fact that there are no guidelines for the exercise of such power, the BASL is of the strong view that the consultative process referred to above would ensure that such a power should be reasonably exercised without leaving any room for loss of public confidence and for undermining the independence of the Judiciary.”
The BASL said this matter was highlighted at the Bar Council meeting held on Saturday, May 25.(Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana and Ranjith Padmasiri)