MP Wijayadasa Rajapakse says Sri Lanka’s supposed to be ‘independent’ Constitutional Council is politically biased
There was much fanfare over implementing the Constitutional Council. The moment the nominees were announced, many clearly pointed out the likely outcome & it was nothing that anyone can today deny. In an interview with Hiru News on 13 February 2019 MP Wijayadasa Rajapakse spoke of his 2 years’ experience under the premiership of Ranil Wickremasinghe government highlighting that the constitutional council was by far the most corrupt of all government agencies in Sri Lanka & that it was not independent & taking decisions based on political revenge which was causing great harm to the judicial system of Sri Lanka.
http://lakfreedom.info/video/199732-hiru-tv-news-9.55pm-13-02-2019 (interview in Sinhala)
MP Wijayadasa Rajapakse gives examples:
Recommendation to appoint Solicitor General Suhada Gamlath as Attorney General was rejected because he was the secretary to the Ministry of Law and Order during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime.
Recommendation to appoint Senior DIG S.M. Wickremesinghe as Inspector General of Police was rejected because he was the Chief Security officer of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Recommendation to appoint acting justice of the Court of Appeal Deepali Wijesundara as the Chairperson of the Court of Appeal and to promote her to the Supreme Court was rejected because of the verdict given by justice Deepali Wijesundara on the “white flag” court case as a High Court judge.
Recommendation to appoint High Court judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to the Court of Appeal was rejected resulting in her having to retire because she had given bail to Lalith Weeratunga.
MP Wijayadasa Rajapaksa cites many other cases of judges having had to end their judicial careers & retire because their promotions had been rejected by this biased constitutional council.
MP Wijayadasa Rajapaksa claims that all recommendations by the President to the Constitutional Council follows advice by the Attorney General.
MP Wijayadasa Rajapaksa says that what is now happening is that decisions are being taken overruling the judicial service commission & even the Executive of the country and as a result the constitutional council are creating conflicts within the judicial system that is seriously affecting the independence of the judiciary and Sri Lanka is heading towards a state-less state as a result of the bias of the constitutional council in its appointments & behavior.
MP Wijayadasa Rajapaksa concluding his interview says that if what he says is incorrect he challenges anyone to a live tv debate.
Sri Lanka’s Constitutional Council
Has it depoliticized the public service as per its mandate?
The constitutional council was established in 2000 via the 17th amendment which was replaced by Parliamentary Council via the 18th amendment in 2010. In 2015 PM Ranil Wickremasinghe through the 19th amendment (Chapter VIIA, Article 41) reinstated a new constitutional council.
10 members tasked to maintain independent commissions & monitor their affairs.
- 3 member supposed to be of eminence & high ‘integrity’
- PM (until he serves as PM) –
- Speaker of Parliament (until he serves as Speaker)
- Leader of Opposition (until he serves as Opp Leader)
- 1 person nominated agreed by parties not belonging to Govt or Opposition (2015 – Vijitha Herath)
Of those that were members of the Constitution Council in September 2015
All 3 persons of ‘integrity’ (Radhika Coomaraswamy, A T Ariyaratne, Shibly Aziz) were nominated by PM Ranil. PM Ranil also nominated Wijayadasa Rajapakse.
President’s nominee was Champaka Ranawaka
Opposition Leaders nominee was John Seneviratne
Parliament’s nominee was Vijitha Herath
Clearly in 2015 while the President had just one nominee 4 nominees were by the PM and given that the Opposition Leader & JVP were also indirectly siding with the Govt that made 7 in favor of the ruling govt including the Presidents nominee.
These were the people recommending officials as Chief Justice, Judges of the Supreme Court, President of the Court of Appeal, Judges of the Court of Appeal, Members of the Judicial Service Commission (except Chairman) Attorney General, Auditor General, Ombudsman, Secretary General of Parliament & the IGP
So where was the impartiality that people were promised?
In October 2018 the 3 new ‘eminent persons’ Naganathan Selvakumaran, Javed Yusuf & Jayantha Dhanapala were also nominees of PM Ranil and they are to serve till 2021.
Every ‘eminent’ person that has been appointed has a checkered past full of controversies & plenty of allegations to deny them to be labeled as people of ‘impartiality’ and people of ‘integrity’.
We can recall that in early February President Sirisena too hit out at the Constitutional Council saying it had rejected appointments of 12 judges giving no reasons for their rejection.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s explanation is that recommendations are not based on seniority and judges are assessed based on their skills – interesting to know who or how these skills are being benchmarked!
We can conclude that the 19a – constitutional council has proved another bogey meant to destabilize Sri Lanka and one that a future government would need to eliminate.
Shenali D Waduge