In view of the President's failure to follow a consistent and discernible criteria when appointing President’s Counsel (PC) and in the conferment of the ‘silk’, a fundamental rights violation petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking an order, specifying for such purposes.
The petitioner also seeks an interim order staying any such appointments until the petition is finally determined.
Counsel Upul Kumarapperuma filed this petition citing the following as respondents -- Attorney General (on behalf of the President as the main respondent), the Presidential Secretary, Bar Association President and Secretary.
The petitioner states that FR jurisdiction has been invoked by him to prevent the imminent infringement of the fundamental rights comes under Article 12(1) – Equal protection of law and Article 14(1)(g) -- Right to engage in lawful profession under the Constitution because of such appointments of PCs.
He states that under the Article 33(2)e of the Constitution, appointment of PCs has referred to Legal Thus, he says that Thus, the qualifications for appointment as Silks (PC) and their privileges became directly a subject dealt within the Constitution.
The petitioner states that these appointments are generally comparable with Commonwealth Jurisdictions and are carried out using a systematic appointment criteria notwithstanding the appointing authority.
He states that in 2016 the Bar Association of Sri Lanka had endeavored to establish a guiding criteria and/or guideline to be followed by the President in the conferment of ‘Silk’ so as to introduce some transparent and objective criteria.
But nevertheless, the President had appointed 75 President’s Counsel from the private bar on three occasions without no reasonable notice has been given to the members of the Bar as to when applications should be made applying for ‘silk’ (PC). And no specific criteria have been formulated which would enable a member of the Bar to assess for himself/herself whether he/she is qualified to become a ‘Silk’.
He also states there were several appointees who have not completed at least 25 years of active practice in the bar, not in active practice and/or do not have an extensive practice in the Bar or contributed in any way to the development of the legal profession or the law and it is apparent that the appointments are made on the basis of irrelevant considerations.
The petitioner also states that President of the Bar Association, Kalinga Indatissa PC had specifically mentioned that President’s Counsel should not be appointed merely on the recommendations of Cabinet Minister or Members of Parliament or for other irrelevant considerations.
The petitioner seeks a declaration from the Supreme Court that the Petitioner’s fundamental rights enshrined in Article 12(1) and 14(1)(g) of the Constitution are in danger of being imminently infringed. He also seeks an Order specifying criteria and procedure which should be followed during the appointment of President’s Counsel. And an interim order preventing further appointment of PC until the final determination of this application.
Chandaka Jayasundara PC and Pulasthi Rupasinghe appeared for the petitioner.
This FR application will be taken up for hearing on July 31 by the SC. (Shehan Chamika Silva)