President’s Secretary responds to BASL on Attorney General appointment

Wednesday, 10 July 2024 00:26 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake has responded to the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), regarding the appointment of a new Attorney General following the retirement of Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC. 

In a detailed letter, Ekanayake outlined the Constitutional provisions and historical precedents surrounding the appointment process.

Ekanayake emphasised that under Article 41C of the Constitution, the President is empowered to appoint the Attorney General with the approval of the Constitutional Council. 

He clarified that there is no constitutional mandate requiring the appointment of the senior-most officer from the Attorney General’s Department based solely on seniority.

Historically, this practice has not been consistently followed in Sri Lanka. Ekanayake pointed out past instances where individuals outside the department’s senior ranks were appointed as Attorney General. 

Notable examples include the appointments of Sarath N. Silva, PC and Mohan Peiris, PC. 

Additionally, he referenced the 2016 scenario where President Maithripala Sirisena recommended multiple candidates, leading to the Constitutional Council’s approval of Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, as Attorney General.

Ekanayake advised the BASL against advocating for the claims of a single candidate among other qualified individuals. 

He underscored the importance of considering all potential candidates to ensure the appointee commands the confidence of both the President and the Cabinet.

Earlier, the BASL had sent a letter to President Ranil Wickremesinghe, urging the appointment of the senior-most officer in the Attorney General’s Department to fill the vacancy. 

The BASL argued that such an appointment would honour the principle of seniority, ensure continuity and stability, and respect the established hierarchy within the department.

Signed by BASL Secretary Chathura A. Galhena, the letter stressed the Attorney General’s critical role in upholding the rule of law and ensuring the proper administration of justice. The BASL urged the President to consider their concerns favourably and adhere to the principle of seniority in the appointment process.