TISL Appalled and Disturbed over Resignation of Two Members from the JSC
Transparency International Sri Lanka is appalled and disturbed to hear of the resignation of two of the most respected judges of the Supreme Court from the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), which is the primary body administering disciplinary matters of the minor judiciary in the country.The causes which lead to the sudden and abrupt decision of the part of Justices Shiranee Bandaranayaka and T.B. Weerasuriya do not appear to be for personal reasons. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has, in their statement dated 4 February 2006, stated that the reasons for resignation were due to a simmering state of discontent prevailing for some time within the JSC. The country witnessed in January 2004, the premature retirement (resignation) from the Supreme Court, of Justice Mark Fernando, one of the senior most judges at that time whose erudition, international repute and highest integrity were undisputed. His resignation from the Court was in similar circumstances. Saluting and admiring these honorable judges for their resignations are not sufficient, if the country is to prevent further erosion of the independence of the institution of the judiciary.
TISL sees the resignations not only as a collapse of administration of justice in Sri Lanka but as evidence of continuous attempts to subvert Sri Lanka’s judicial system. Such attempts, in the recent past, have been motivated by political elements resulting in the severe undermining of public faith in the institutions of justice.
The political authorities that are vested with power to address this menace, need to act swiftly at least now to protect the integrity of the institution of the judiciary, faced as it is currently with internal as well as external threats to its independence.
It is well recognized that the separation of powers in government is at the core of a democratic state. Pursuant to this power, the judiciary dispenses justice not only between citizens but also between citizens and other government organs and agencies. Thus the need to develop and preserve an independent judiciary free from political influence and with adequate guarantees to maintain its impartiality and independence is of prime importance in the protection of the rule of law and constitutional democracy.
TISL calls upon the Government and the Opposition and other political parties to engage in the following collective actions;
Speedily take all required steps to constitute the Constitutional Council in order that the deactivated independent commissions under the 17th Amendment are brought alive;
Appoint a three member commission of past Chief Justices of Sri Lanka and overseas to initiate an inquiry into the circumstances of the resignations of Justices Shiranee Bandaranayaka and TB Weerasuriya from the Judicial Services Commission;
Ensure greater transparency and accountability in the functioning of the Judicial Services Commission.
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