The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said it condemns a statement made by Wimal Weerawansa MP in Parliament on 10 January on the recent appointments to the Supreme Court.
Issuing a statement, the BASL said the lawmaker clearly has insulted the Supreme Court cowering behind parliamentary privileges, and had he made the statement outside Parliament, the Association would not hesitate to take legal action against him for Contempt of Court.
Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa during the parliamentary session on 10 January stated that “the Supreme Court is a den of a certain religious clique.”
The BASL statement is as follows:
“The Bar Association of Sri Lanka unequivocally and strongly condemns the speech made by Member of Parliament Wimal Weerawansa in Parliament on January 10, 2019 wherein he made derogatory remarks about the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.
“During the course of a speech during the debate on a Bill, Hon. Weerawansa stated that “the Supreme Court has become a den for a certain religious sect.” In the course of speech Mr. Weerawansa alleged that the Constitutional Council had approved only the names of persons from a certain religious sect for appointments to the Supreme Court. When appointments to the Supreme Court over the last few years are considered it is clear that Weerawansa’s statements are baseless and devoid of truth.
“The aforesaid words of MP Weerawansa have the effect of interfering with the independence of the Judiciary of this country. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka stresses that the race and religion of members of the Judiciary should not be used to unfairly attack the Judiciary. Whilst members of the public, including politicians, are entitled to criticise the Judiciary in a reasonable and objective manner, they are not entitled to cast aspersions on the Judiciary in such a manner as to bring the Court into disrepute. Such attacks impinge on the independence of the Judiciary and the Rule of Law.
“It is regrettable that MP Weerawansa has made this speech in Parliament under cover of privilege, preventing him from being dealt with by the laws of contempt. Had this speech been made outside Parliament, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka would have without any hesitation called for him to be dealt with for Contempt of Court in terms of the law.”