25th July, 2004  Volume 11, Issue 2

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SPOTLIGHT

CJ affair: spotlight shifts to parliament

By Frederica Jansz

The case involving Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva is certainly another first for Sri Lanka's claim to yet more ill fame. Never before has a chief justice of this country been at the receiving end of such strident lobbying to ensure his removal. Never before has the conduct and track record of a chief justice of this nation ever been under such scrutiny, charges and allegations. And never before has the very portal on which Sri Lanka's judiciary stands, been shaken to its core as a result of the conduct of its chief judicial officer.

Hardly had the dust settled on a second impeachment motion attempted against the Chief Justice a mere nine months ago, before another controversy followed.

This time, hot on the heels of an alleged affair with a young lady lawyer, the joint opposition last week called for a parliamentary probe into the case involving Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva.

What is apparently of issue here is not just that the 63-year-old Chief Justice may or may not have indulged in a liaison with a young lady. Moral judgment aside, what transcends the alleged incident, is the subsequent scenario that has unfolded.

Diabolical lies

One undeniable fact is crystal clear. That is, that lies and diabolical ones at that have been uttered with nary a thought for the consequences.

This is an undisputable fact in this case. The issue now at hand is to determine if these lies have been uttered by the police officers involved or the Chief Justice himself.

On the one hand we have an alleged conspiracy - a charge made by none other than the CJ himself against five police officers out of which, four are mere constables while one is a chief inspector.

On the other hand, we have an alleged scenario which seriously implicates the Chief Justice, not just in having allegedly been seen in the company of a woman. More seriously that the Chief Justice was lying when he denied any involvement and accused the police officers of being part of a conspiracy.

It is this latter possibility that bears disastrous consequences for all Sri Lankans. After all, how can Sri Lanka have as head of its judiciary an individual capable of lying, doctoring evidence and intimidating witnesses? And it is in this context that this case should be carefully and thoroughly investigated.

Conflicting versions

In view of the conflicting versions it is important to get at the truth. If the police are at fault then they have to be punished without delay.

After all if indeed they have fabricated charges against the Chief Justice it is a matter of the utmost seriousness and they must be interdicted forthwith. However, if it is the Chief Justice who is found to be at fault then he cannot be tolerated to hold this high office a day more.

There is one point that needs to be stressed. Had this happened to Sarath Nanda Silva's distinguished predecessors whereby no apparent value has been attached to what he has charged, accusing the police officers involved of a conspiracy to tarnish his image, they would not have continued in office for even a day.

Chief Justice Neville Samarakoon and Chief Justices Parinda Ranasingha, S. Sharvananda and G.P.S de Silva would not have sacrificed their self-respect and integrity in a situation of this nature.

In similar vein when a similar controversy erupted involving former Air Force Commander, Jayalath Weerakkody he tendered his resignation and left.

It goes without saying that to expect an impartial and thorough investigation into this case by the police force is a pipe dream.

When questioned last week on the status of the ongoing police investigation, Police Chief, Indra de Silva said, "I have no idea. I have not been able to look into this so far since I have been busy with the controversy surrounding police promotions."

This is despite the fact that this investigation revolves around police officers. And that too, four of whom are minor officers.

Surely, they are easily summoned by superiors, thus hastening the conclusion of any inquiry? De Silva claims he expects this inquiry to "finish soon." Beyond that rather vague statement he cannot be more specific.

The Police Chief was more or less noncommittal when asked for his opinion on the call by the joint opposition for a parliamentary select committee to take over this investigation having stated a case of no confidence against the Police Chief and his inquiring officers.

The IGP replied, asserting rather lamely, that his investigation would also continue. Towards what end he cannot say.

The Inspector General of Police has already contradicted himself on at least two occasions. He was initially quoted by one newspaper saying a full inquiry is underway after the Chief Justice himself had called for one. The IGP then told another newspaper less than 24 hours after a police probe had begun, that the police officers involved in this case would be severely dealt with.

For the Police Chief to make this comment even before a full investigation had been conducted and concluded proves the IGP is incapable of acting with independence.

In addition, the dubious conduct of senior police officers appointed to probe this matter has already been brought into question by President's Counsel, Desmond Fernando. Fernando, who represented the chief inspector when the latter was summoned for a statement by the police Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has complained to the National Police Commission against the officers conducting the inquiry and the manner in which the inquiry was conducted.

Police investigation

In this context, to expect a full and impartial investigation into this matter by police officers serving under the IGP is indeed a matter that is already a foregone conclusion. Inquiring police officers have so far proved they lack the courage to stand tall where this case is concerned.

For the cops, an impartial probe in the interests of the public, justice and democracy is a matter well beyond them.

A full scale cover up appears to be in operation hoping media attention would wane and the issue will die a natural death, like many such issues in the past.

As we examine the facts pertaining to this case and others involving Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva, it is imperative to bear in mind one extremely important aspect. And that is that this particular case involves none other than the Chief Justice. An individual second only to Sri Lanka's Head of State. (See box for case against the Chief Justice)

This is not the first time charges of this nature have been brought against Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva.

He was appointed on September 16, 1999 as Chief Justice by President Chandrika Kumara-tunga. In making the appointment, Kumaratunga disregarded petitions of appeal delivered to her by concerned citizens of the country to appoint an individual of high repute to the post of chief justice, in whom public confidence is reposed and whose integrity is not only above suspicion but is demonstrably seen to be above suspicion as well.

CJ's appointment

When Sarath N. Silva was appointed as CJ, he automatically took over as head of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). Ironically, the controlling body which was at the time inquiring into his conduct.

The appointment of Attorney General Sarath Nanda Silva as Chief Justice effectively superseded Justice Mark Fernando, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court at the time and a judge responsible for many landmark judgments that brought him international fame but angered both the UNP and PA governments.

The charges against Sarath Nanda Silva began during his tenure as Attorney General. He had, while he was a judge of the court of appeal, got his name deleted from the position of an accused in an adultery case instituted against him by W. B. A. Jayasekera, who is a chartered engineer by profession.

It is charged that Sarath Nanda Silva followed a policy of using his powers to the maximum in order to get a verdict to the advantage of Damayanthi Jayasekera, the woman who lived with him in adultery.

It is alleged that a former Colombo Additional District Judge, Upali Abeyratne who helped the Chief Justice in the divorce case filed by Jayasekera against his wife Damayanthi, who at the time the case was filed was already living with the Chief Justice, was subsequently on the recommendation of Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, appointed a High Court judge.

Damayanthi's husband W. B. A. Jayasekera subsequently complained to the JSC against District Judge, Upali Abeyratne who he said had handled his divorce case partially and in favour of Sarath N. Silva who had been named as a respondent in the divorce case. But following Sarath N. Silva's appointment as Chief Justice and thereby head of the JSC too, this complaint could no longer stand.

Two impeachment motions

There have been two impeachment motions presented against the Chief Justice. The first, was presented to parliament in 2001. This was later invalidated by an injunction of the Supreme Court.

The inaction of parliament on this motion was another contributory factor to why it went under, and remained so until the house was dissolved in August that year.

The new United National Front (UNF) government elected in December 2001, for reasons known only to themselves, failed to pursue this motion further. This was despite the fact that 77 members of the main opposition UNP had signed the impeachment motion and presented it to parliament in June 2001.

When parliament was abruptly prorogued until October 7, 2001 this motion was stalled. When the House resumed its sittings the Speaker said that the impeachment motion had lapsed.

This was technically not correct because Article 70(4) of the Constitution provides that matters pending in parliament may be proceeded with at the next sessions.

After the UNF was elected to office, no fresh impeachment motion against the Chief Justice was presented. That is until late October 2003, when the UNF attempted once more to bring an impeachment motion against the Chief Justice.

Then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe apparently gave the green-light to his cabinet of ministers to proceed with a second impeachment motion only after President Kumaratunga took over three ministries sparking off a political crisis which eventually led to the dissolution of parliament.

What is important here is to focus on the charges contained in this second impeachment document, all of which are backed with evidence. Of course, no sooner the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) took office in April this year, this impeachment motion like the complaint to the JSC against Sarath N. Silva, became null and void.

For the UNF, their timing to present a second impeachment charge against the CJ could not have been worse. And they paid the ultimate price. (See box for impeachment charges against the CJ)

CJ's conduct

And now for the third time, the UNF gas set in motion yet another process questioning the conduct of Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva.

But a more important factor, than the joint opposition effort, where the case involving the Chief Justice is concerned is the fallout for civil society.

In the interest of the public, the justice system, judiciary, democracy and in the interest of the rule of law it is vital that the true facts relating to the Chief Justice be probed and reported upon by persons who are completely impartial and unbiased. And above all who will not bow to political or judicial pressure. If not, this case will certainly be civil society's calling card.

BASL President shies from taking a stand.

President's Counsel and President, Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Ikram Mohammed said the BASL does not intend to issue any statement on the present controversy involving the Chief Justice "because there is still a police investigation pending."

"The BASL has not considered this matter at all," he asserted. When asked why, he replied, "I really do not know."

*  *  *

Opinions on the controversy surrounding the Chief Justice

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader, Rauf Hakeem:

"There should be two sides to a story. So far the Chief Justice has denied the allegations and the policemen stand by their statements. The issue has to be looked into and an impartial inquiry has to be conducted. He cannot be tried by the press.

"The matter has to be proven before finding the man guilty of anything. I know what it is like to be tried by the press. I was tried by the state media while he is being tried by the private media. I went through a traumatic period and I feel I should not be hasty in coming to a conclusion regarding the matter.

"The question of intrusion in to one's private life also comes in at this moment. Others involved in the Chief Justice's case have also being highlighted in the stories. As public figures we can take a beating, but for others it is a difficult situation.

"The police have said they will look into the matter, but their impartiality is in question. However, it is quite difficult when an issue regarding a chief justice is brought forward, but it is sad that the nasty tabloid culture is now setting into mainstream newspapers."

UNP MP, K. N. Choksy:

"Since the joint opposition has submitted a resolution to parliament calling for the appointment of a select committee to look into the issue, it would not be fair to make a comment before the committee is formed."

Entrepreneur Patrick Amarasinghe:

"Everyone in this country looks up to the Chief Justice as a supreme person. He should be of the highest level since he sits in judgment of so many people. There should be no doubt about his integrity.

"This is a very vulnerable situation for the Chief Justice to be in. The Chief Justice's personal life is not our business but credibility of supreme persons is very important."

Chairman, Ceylon National Chamber of Industries, Ranjith Hettiarachchi:

"As a business chamber, we don't want to get involved commenting on this type of thing but the maintenance of discipline at all levels - be it presidential, prime ministerial, ministerial, government servants or police - is very important.

"Developed countries have reached that position due to the discipline that is maintained. If there is no discipline, the whole system will collapse."

A prominent lawyer speaking on grounds of anonymity:

"There is no problem with the Chief Justice of this country having an affair with a woman. This is his private life and nobody, including the media, has the right to interfere in his private life. However, the fact that he has lied to the police and allegedly doctored evidence is a serious problem as this does not fit the role of a chief justice."

Lawyer and writer, Kishali Pinto Jayawardena:

"If this is in regard to his private life then nobody has the right to question him. However, the moment these allegations come into the public sphere, in terms of his public conduct or any other public official for that matter, there are very clear principles that ought to be applied and an impartial inquiry should be held."

Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives, Rohan Edirisinha:

"This entire issue that the Chief Justice has been involved in does not befit the role of a chief justice. This is the very reason that I have been arguing for a long period of time that an impeachment resolution should be taken up in parliament against him.

"Unfortunately the UNF government did not take any serious action against him when they were in power, although they had promised that they would. Serious action should be taken against him and an inquiry should be held."

Peradeniya University student, Nishanie Jayamaha:

"The actions of the Chief Justice totally violate the purpose of a chief justice. The chief justice is someone who is there to uphold the law, and he should set an example to the people.

"Some people think the chief justice's personal life and the role of the chief justice are two, but in this case it was dual. There are certain rules and a system that the people have to abide by and the justice system is not the problem, it is the people who are running the system that should be checked.

"There are many justice systems around the world that are corrupt but from any system there are some standards that are expected.

"The common rule or the common law should be upheld by everyone including the chief justice. This is why although the system is fine the people running the system should be checked. And it is also a fact that people react differently to a situation but no one should be above the law.

"The Chief Justice should act more responsibly as his designation 'chief justice' implies what he represents.

Merchandiser S.N. Hettiarachchi:

"What the Chief Justice did was totally wrong and reflects badly on the justice system of the country. One does not expect such behaviour from a person such as the chief justice who is a person holding a high post."

*  *  *

Questionable evidence

The questionable evidence which challenges the CJ's charge that this present case is a conspiracy against him, involving minor police officers:

 Would five police officers, four from Talangama Police Station and one chief inspector from the IGP's command/police information room join to connive in some bizarre conspiracy that involved the CJ? If so, why?

 Would these police officers have been in a position to fabricate evidence given that the Hyundai car they have noted in their entries is almost brand new and not one that has been in use for even two months?

 How would these police officers have been able to implicate the lady lawyer alleged to have been with the Chief Justice on the night of July 6? The address they have noted in their statements is that of her mother's as stipulated in her identity card which is the address under which her vehicle is also registered. If indeed the policemen were involved in a conspiracy to fabricate evidence to implicate the Chief Justice with a woman, would they not have given the present address at which she resides together with her husband at Dehiwala?

 What of the incriminating evidence in the possession of The Sunday Leader which details how this lady lawyer telephoned the Chief Justice on his personal mobile number close upon 7:40 p.m. on the night of the incident and once more after 9:45 p.m.? They did not speak to each other on their mobile phones during the time of the police detection. She then telephoned the CJ seven times the following afternoon, July 7, both on his mobile phone and hotline at his chambers.

 One might argue that the spate of calls would have been to find out what was going on following the news hitting the public that the Chief Justice was caught in a compromising position with a woman. However the initial information in no way implicated her but another woman. But C.D.S. ( the lady lawyer concerned) was not to know that.

*  *  *

Lord Brennan's opinion

An opinion by Chairman, Bar Council of England and Wales, Lord Brennan Q.C. on the matter of Sri Lanka's Chief Justice:

In the year 2000, Lord Daniel Brennan Q.C. former chairman of the Bar Council of England and Wales in a report on Sri Lanka's judiciary, recommended that the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) should consider the appropriateness of requesting the Chief Justice to desist temporarily from officiating as a judge of the Supreme Court and act as a member of the JSC until the conclusion of the findings of the special committee of the BASL.

Lord Brennan together with former Chief Justice, Karnataka and Kerala, Justice Malimath and President, Malaysian Bar Association, Mah Weng Kwai advised the BASL to appoint a committee of highly respected senior past presidents of the BASL to investigate the charges relating to the Chief Justice.

Brennan further advocated that the BASL and all branch organisations should also resolve to not invite the Chief Justice for any function or event involving the BASL, its branch organisations or its members.

*  *  *

The case for impeachment against Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva

The second impeachment motion signed in October last year documented a number of instances of misbehaviour on the part of Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva.

          The first case cited was that the CJ in his capacity as ex officio chairman of the Judges Institute which also functions as the official residence of the chief justice had employed as caretaker of this institute a person by the name of Rohana Kumara, a convicted criminal against whom several criminal cases are pending.

          Rohana Kumara it was stated, is a close associate of Nupul Kumara who is accused of the murder of Ranjith Bandara Wijekoon on February 5, 2000, at Peradeniya Gardens where Rohana Kumara is the fourth accused.

            According to the impeachment motion, Rohana Kumara had been in constant touch with the assassin Nupul Kumara and his counsel Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne PC, on numerous occasions before and after the murder. Also, that Rohana Kumara had telephoned the Chief Justice, on or about March 8, 2001, whilst he was evading arrest.

          Despite these facts, contained also in the previous impeachment document, the Chief Justice continued to permit Rohana Kumara to function as caretaker at the Judges Institute as well as to use a vehicle bearing the name tag 'Judges Institute.'

          Rohana Kumara was eventually taken into custody on December 29, 2001. At the time of his arrest Kumara had requested that he be allowed to speak to the CJ, but the officer in charge of the police party, Sub Inspector Tennakoon had refused permission.

          Police records reveal that at this moment the third accused in this case, Lakshmi Kusumalatha who had been close by had taken a phone call to the CJ and informed him of Rohana Kumara's arrest.

          When Sub Inspector Tennakoon had questioned Rohana Kumara at the time of his arrest as to why he was evading arrest, Rohana Kumara's reply had been that he was hiding temporarily on the advice of Chief Justice Sarath Silva. This fact was reported and made public, and never at any stage contradicted by the CJ.

          Another case cited is a fundamental rights application case No. 43/2000.  This was filed in the Supreme Court allegedly by attorney-at-law, M. B. S. Weerakone, on behalf of Nupul Kumara in connection with another incident.

            Weerakone subsequently filed a letter in court stating that he did not file the said petition 43/2000 along with 40/2000 and 44/2000 and complained that his signature on the three petitions are a forgery.

          When this matter was taken up on February 19, 2001, before the Chief Justice and two other judges, Sarath Silva simply dismissed the said petition No. 43/2000 and the other two petitions and made no comment about the fraudulent signature that had been placed on the petition.

            Separately, the Chief Justice is charged in the impeachment motion with having acted in a manner unbecoming of the position of a judge of the highest court in the land apart from the office of the chief justice.

          This charge is with reference to three fundamental rights applications referred to the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the appointment of the CJ. These applications sought a full bench to hear and determine the petitions owing to the public and constitutional importance of this matter.

          The impeachment motion referring to these applications assert that the Chief Justice more or less threw these applications out of court where he was a respondent and an interested party by making orders that were partial to his own interests.

          Another fundamental rights application, case no. 503/99 in which Sarath Silva was the presiding judge, he had ridiculed and insulted the petitioner Rev. Rupha Pemananda. The CJ on this occasion has said, "Buddhist monks should not be employed whilst wearing saffron and if they so wish to be employed they should disrobe themselves. They become monks to serve the Buddha Sasana and it is not proper for them to take employment or become members of any organisation, since they are provided with dhana. If they do what they want, they should first disrobe."

          In the fundamental rights case no. 681/99 on which the petitioner was a doctor in public service and a member of the GMOA, Sarath Silva who presided at the hearing had addressed these words to the petitioner: "Government doctors don't perform any work. They are not to be found at their stations, they only know how to go on strike, therefore it is appropriate to punish them."

          In yet another fundamental rights application filed by Lal Priyantha Liyanage in which then Minister Richard Pathirana was one of the respondents, leave to proceed was refused by a bench presided over by Sarath Silva who told the petitioner, "Minister Richard Pathirana came to my house and cried.  He told me he never did a thing like this. I know him. He is not a person who will do a thing like this."

          During the campaign for the 2000 parliamentary elections many applications were filed alleging abuse of state owned media to promote the candidature of the then People's Alliance government.

          Sarath Silva as Chief Justice constituted the benches over which he presided and made orders. In the fundamental rights application filed by UNP Chairman, Karu Jayasuriya, seeking redress against Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. and its editors for abuse of the media for the benefit of the ruling People's Alliance, Sarath Silva summarily dismissed the application without any reason.

          Another fundamental rights application 578/2000 was also instituted by Karu Jayasuriya seeking orders against the Independent Television Network (ITN) for gross abuse of the media for the benefit of the ruling People's Alliance. Sarath Silva once more dismissed the application without due hearing.

          Karu Jayasuriya was the first signatory to a notice of resolution for the impeachment of Sarath Silva as Chief Justice. This resolution was dated June 6, 2001. Jayasuriya subsequently filed three cases in the Supreme Court.

          The CJ then constituted benches to hear these cases over which he presided. In the case against the then chairman of SLRC and SLBC, the CJ granted leave to proceed but fixed the dates for February 5, 2002 as the date of hearing despite vehement objections of counsel that this would render the application of no effect as the general election was scheduled for December 5, 2001.

          In the FR cases against ITN, ANCL, SLRC and SLBC the impeachment document states that Sarath Silva purposely engaged in delaying tactics in order to render the applications non effective despite the urgency of the matter.

          In the third application 562/2001 he refused leave to proceed and coerced the parties to go before the commissioner of elections without the agreement of the petitioner.

          In the Supreme Court FR application no. 633/2001 filed by Waruna Karunatilleke of the Free Media Movement against the commissioner of elections and the SLRC under the 17th Amendment with regard to the December 5, 2001 general elections, the CJ behaved in a manner highly unbecoming of the office of the chief justice, refusing to give an early date for the respondents to report back to court despite explicit requests from counsel. He also threatened to award costs to the petitioner for coming before court and remarking that the petitioner should turn off the Rupavahini and switch to another channel if he found Rupavahini to be biased in its coverage.

          In his capacity as ex officio chairman of the Judicial Services Commission, (JSC) the CJ is charged with having maliciously caused the termination of services of Hiran Ekanayake, Additional Colombo Magistrate for reasons unconnected with the performance of the duties of his office.

          The Chief Justice accused Ekanayake of being biased against People's Alliance Chief Minister of the North Central Province, Berty Premalal Dissanayake and partial towards Ranil Wickremesinghe.

          The Chief Justice is also accused of attempting to influence Hiran Ekanayake in the performance of his judicial functions in a case instituted against a lady named Hassan Ali who was charged with cheating and fraudulent representations made to persons seeking foreign employment. Ekanayake had refused to bow to the CJ's overtures. He was later summoned before the JSC on June 2, 2000 at which meeting the CJ called upon him to resign from office and hand over his letter of resignation that very day.

          Also in his capacity as ex officio chairman of the JSC the Chief Justice had summoned magistrate Jayaki de Alwis and questioned her regarding the reason why she had made certain adverse orders against Inspector of Police, Umagiliya, the bodyguard of People's Alliance Chief Minister, North Central Province, Berty Premalal Dissanayake. He called upon her to resign. Upon her declining to do so, she was dismissed from service without an inquiry. She was reinstated after two days and thereafter compelled and pressurised to tender her resignation.

          Again in his capacity as chairman of the JSC the Chief Justice subjected magistrate Lawrence Costa to constant harassment on the allegation that Costa was biased towards the supporters of the UNP in making his orders as a magistrate. Costa also later resigned unable to bear the pressure brought on him.

          From April 1992 and up to date whilst holding the office of Chief Justice while his marriage to Manorani Silva subsists in law, he has cohabited and is living in adultery with Damayanthi Shirani Jayasekera nee Gunaratne.

            Damayanthi's husband W. B. A. Jayasekera chartered engineer and former president of the Organisation of Professional Associations subsequently complained to the JSC against Colombo Additional District Judge, Upali Abeyratne who he said had handled his divorce case partially and in favour of Sarath Silva who had been named as a respondent in the divorce case.

          The JSC chaired by former Chief Justice G. P. S. De Silva held an inquiry and ordered that Upali Abeyratne be deprived of promotions for a period of two years and that he be transferred out of the judicial zone of Colombo to Moneragala for two years.

          No Sooner Sarath Nanda Silva assumed office as Chief Justice and thereby took over as chairman of the JSC he cancelled this order and transferred Upali Abeyratne to Gampaha and almost immediately thereafter to Colombo.

          The impeachment motion further charges that Sarath Silva has hurriedly reconstituted benches so he could preside whenever petitions have been filed against the constitution. One such instance was in relation to the Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka Bill of August 3, 2000. Despite attorney-at-law S. L. Gunasekera raising an objection to the bench on the ground that Sarath Silva had previously as attorney general taken an active part in the drafting of the bill, and also having been a proponent of the draft constitution at various public fora, Sarath Nanda Silva persisted in taking up the case before him.

          He also on this same occasion disregarded the plea of counsel that this matter of paramount importance should come up for hearing before a fuller bench including the senior judges of the Supreme Court.

          The impeachment document further charges that in the case of Anthony Michael Emmanuel Fernando the Chief Justice sat in violation of the provisions of Section 49 (3) of the Judicature Act. Sarath Silva sentenced Fernando to one year of rigorous imprisonment presiding on the bench despite having been named as a respondent.

          District Judge Palitha Bandaranayake  who contested the findings of the JSC with regard to his dismissal and filed a fundamental rights application against the JSC specifically urged that the three judges of the Supreme Court who are members of the JSC should not hear his case. Yet, the Chief Justice who is also ex officio chairman of the JSC presided over the bench and disallowed Bandaranayake's application.

          The final straw was when the Chief Justice prevented the attorney general from fully stating his position in a matter concerning the distribution of powers on the subject of defence. The matter was before open court following a reference made by President Chandrika Kumaratunga purportedly in terms of Article 129 of the Constitution seeking an opinion of the Supreme Court.

          When the AG was responding to a question from the bench, the CJ interjected to disagree with the AG, stating that the latter was volunteering unsolicited opinions.


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