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Storm rising over Sirisena’s nominee to Court of Appeal

Supreme Court of Sri Lanka/File

Tomorrow (9) the Constitutional Council has to decide on a new appointment to the Court of Appeal and President Maithripala Sirisena’s nominee for the vacancy has become controversial after the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) wrote to the Constitutional Council objecting to the name.

In a letter dated August 2 and signed by President’s Secretary Udaya R Seneviratne, the President has submitted a single name for consideration for the vacancy, that of Attorney at Law Lakshmi Menaka Minu Jayawickreme.

She has been working at the Presidential Secretariat from 2015 and is currently Additional Secretary Legal in the President’s staff.

In a letter sent yesterday (7) to the Constitutional Council, the BASL has said that the “Higher Judiciary requires a blend of academic and professional career Judges.”

The letter signed by BASL President Kalinga Indatissa says that professional career judges are usually appointed on seniority and officers of the Attorney General’s Department were appointed to “maintain that blend.”

Indatissa says that the nominee Jayawickreme “has been attached to the Presidential Secretariat for some time. The individual nominee has no judicial experience to be appointed as a Judge of the Court of Appeal.”

The letter does not mention Jayawickreme by name.

The BASL also urges the Council to consider nominees suggested by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya and the Attorney General Dappula de Livera.

The CJ has recommended career judge Kegalle High Court Judge Ruwan Fernando and the AG has forwarded the name of Senior Deputy Solicitor General Sobitha Rajakaruna.

The BASL warns that “disregarding such recommendations would be detrimental to the Rule of Law and administration of Justice.”   

It also warns that the appointment of this nominee would set a “precedent that does not augur well for the profession.”