New CJ to serve ruling regime, alleges Mangala

Friday, 18 January 2013 02:37 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Dharisha Bastians

Mohan Peiris is not the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, but a Chief Justice to serve at the pleasure of the ruling family, UNP Parliamentarian Mangala Samaraweera charged yesterday, claiming that the new appointment was illegal and unconstitutional.

Addressing a media briefing in Colombo yesterday, Samaraweera, who heads the main Opposition party’s communications unit, said that Peiris’ appointment had drawn widespread international condemnation because of the former State prosecutor’s prejudiced track record during his tenure as Attorney General.

“During his time as Attorney General of Sri Lanka, he is well known for having withdrawn indictments against the Government’s political allies,” the Opposition legislator charged, quoting from a recent Asian Human Rights Commission statement, which claimed that as AG, Peiris had prized expediency over legality and “glaringly” abused power.

Samaraweera said that Peiris’ appointment proves that the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was an operative of the ruling family, which realised that an independent Judiciary was standing in its way to establishing a fully-fledged dictatorship.

“This is why the power of the armed forces was used to garrison the Superior Court Complex on Tuesday. That was completely illegal,” the UNP MP said.

According to Samaraweera, the administration of the Superior Court Complex is conducted by a Board of Management incorporated by an act of Parliament. He said the Marshall of the Court could not take unilateral decisions with regard to security, although the Police claimed that on Tuesday it was the Marshall who had given instructions to seal off the Court Complex. “We now know that this Marshall only assumed duty two months ago and was specifically put there on the instructions of the Defence Ministry,” the MP alleged.

The UNP MP also noted that several senior lawyers including leading activist of the Lawyers’ Collective J.C. Weliamuna had received written death threats.

“The whole country should be thankful for these activists who stood up to protect democracy. We ask that the Government and the international community intervene to ensure that no harm comes to any one of them,” Samaraweera said, adding that if these lawyers suffered attacks, the entire responsibility would be on the Rajapaksa Government.