Leaked phone calls take toll on judiciary as magistrate interdicted

Friday, 17 January 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • AG directs police to question suspect judges
  • JSC interdict magistrate, send recommendation on HC judge to President
  • Three judges identified as having had conversations with jailed MP on pending cases
  • BASL and other groups call for immediate inquiry into conduct of judges
  • Ramanayake facing charges under Constitution for interfering with functions of judicial officers

By Chandani Kirinde

The fallout from the leaked recording of phone conversation between UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake and three judges yesterday resulted in one of the magistrates in question being interdicted, and the Attorney General (AG) directing Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) Director Superintendent of Police PJ Nandana to record statements from the three judges who were allegedly involved in telephone conversations with the MP.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interdicted Magistrate Dhammika Hemapala, while it sent its recommendations with regards to High Court judge Gihan Pilapitiya to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Judges of the High Court can be removed and are subject to the disciplinary control of the President on the recommendation of the JSC, an authoritative source told the Daily FT. It is under these provisions in the Constitution that recommendations were sent to the President, he said. 

Along with Pilapitiya and Hemapala, the conduct of retired judge Padmini N. Ranawaka Gunathilake has also been called into question, following the leaked phone recordings of conversations Ramanayake had with them pertaining to pending cases.

The CCD will now record statements from all three judges, following the AG’s directive.

The High Court Judges Association and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) last week called for an inquiry into the issue. The BASL said that any attempt to bypass or postpone resolving this issue would result in further erosion of public confidence in the judicial system. Ramanayake, who is embroiled in the call-recording scandal, was produced before the Gangodawila Magistrate on Wednesday and remanded till 29 January.

The AG has directed the Police to charge him for offences under Article 111 C (2) of the Constitution, which deals with interference or attempts to interfere with the exercise or performance of the judicial powers or functions of any judge, presiding officer, public officer or such other person.

If convicted, he would also be disqualified for a period not exceeding seven years from the date of such conviction from being an elector, and from voting at a Referendum or at any election of the President of the Republic, or at any election of a Member of Parliament or any local authority, or from holding any public office and from being employed as a public officer.