Appointment of judges


The Constitutional Council (CC) has decided to seek the Attorney General’s opinion to draft the modalities and criteria for the appointment of judges and other members of the commissions.

The CC has taken the above decision when it met at the Parliamentary complex last Thursday presided by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

There was criticism by the UPFA MPs and the President that the CC lacks a set of criteria in approving the appointments referred to it.

The CC issuing a detailed press release on Saturday countered the allegations that came up during the debate on the CC held in Parliament recently.

The CC has also written to President Maithripala Sirisena clarifying its position.

The press statement reiterated that it adheres to the same 2002 criteria followed by the then Constitutional Council. “The CC has informed the President and all MPs on this set of criteria and requested suggestions if any revisions are needed.

So far, no MP has given any suggestion. However, the CC decided to further study this matter and get the AG’s opinion,” sources of the CC told the Daily News.

The statement also expressed its concern on the President’s criticism that the CC tries to control the Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary, adding that the allegation was “very serious and unfair”. “The main intention of setting up the CC was to limit the Executive power. It controls the President’s sole authority when it comes to the high rank appointments. However, the CC does not exceed the powers of the Executive President and he (the President) continues be the appointing authority. The CC only approves or disapproves the nominations sent by the President,” the CC clarified in the statement.

The CC, rejecting the President’s allegation that it has rejected 14 nominations sent by the President to be appointed as superior court judges, said that it has only rejected four names and the reasons for their rejections were informed to the President in writing. However, the CC has not included those reasons in the quarterly reports produced to the President since they become public documents after presentation in Parliament. “The CC was of the view that step was necessary to protect the dignity and confidence of the serving judges,” the statement added.

The statement also detailed that three parties, namely the President, Chief Justice and the CC, involve in appointing judges to the superior courts, adding that the CJ’s reasoning in approving or disapproving the nominations were given special consideration by the CC. Sources of the CC pointed out that even though the President insists on appointing Justice Deepali Wijesundara as the President of the Court of Appeal given that she is the senior most judge in the Court of Appeal, the President himself at a previous occasion chose Justice Preethi Padman Surasena over Justice Wijesundara as the President of the Court of Appeal.

Commenting on the views regarding the composition of the Council, the CC in the press statement expressed that its members are also of the view that the civil society representation must get the majority share of the apex decision making body. “That was the original proposal in the 19th Amendment Bill, but that had to be revised at the committee stage due to objections by the MPs. However, we are of the view that the current composition represents all party views at the CC,” the statement added.

The statement also expresses the CC’s readiness to discuss with President Sirisena if he has any issue with the role of the CC. 

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