Kannan’s appointment as High Court Judge made to appease govt ally

JO alleges HC appointment  made to appease govt ally

By Shamindra Ferdinando

(The question here is how saintly are the duo GLP and BG (BUT) the president was wrong in making the appointment without proper method using his discretion or rather executive power, if the story is true. PM appointed a controversial person as CB Governor and got into the soup and now the President has appointed an incompetent lawyer as a High Court Judge.  Do what you preach(ed)  -TW))

Alleging that since the change of government in January 2015, every sector, including the judiciary had deteriorated, top Joint Opposition spokesman Prof. G.L. Peiris accused the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration of elevating a relatively junior lawyer to the rank of a High Court judge to appease a particular political party.

Peiris, a former law professor alleged that Batticaloa based Ramanathan Kannan of the private bar had taken oaths as a High Court judge consequent to an intervention made by no less a person than President Maithripala Sirisena.

Kannan, who has passed out as a lawyer in 1992 is said to have been an unsuccessful candidate to be a magistrate earlier. And now by being elevated to the High Court directly he is being allowed to bypass the magistrates and district judges who joined the judiciary much earlier.

Although Prof. Peiris refrained from naming the political party responsible for influencing the appointment, The Island learns that the reference was to the four-party Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) led Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

At the time, this edition went into press, the TNA hadn’t responded to The Island query as regards its involvement in the appointment. We sent a sms query to TNA leader and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan’s Secretary and our attempts to contact him over the phone too were in vain.

Addressing the media at a temple at Punchi Borella, Both Prof. Peiris and UPFA MP Bandula Gunawardena alleged that public confidence in judiciary had rapidly declined since the change of government. Irreparable damage had been caused to the judiciary due to persistent political interference, MP Gunawardena alleged.

Asked by The Island whether the JO had conveniently forgotten how the previous successive SLFP-led governments ruined the judiciary, an irate MP Gunawardena said that as the electorate had inflicted defeat on the previous administration at two national elections in January and Aug, 2015 there was no point in discussing the past. Still millions of voted for the former President and the SLFP-led alliance at 2015 polls, the MP said.

Acknowledging that the previous administration had to pay a heavy price for wrongdoing, MP Gunawardena alleged that yahapalana rulers were far worse. MP Gunawardena refrained from commenting on The Island query as regards those who had been at the help of the judiciary and the political leadership turning a blind eye to accusations in respect of a woman who sought judicial intervention on her behalf being raped by a magistrate.

Prof. Peiris alleged that Kannan had been appointed as High Court judge in contravention of existing procedures. Prof. Peiris quoted Justice and Buddha Sasana Minister Dr Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, as having said that he declined a request from a political party to accommodate Kanan among the ranks of High Court judges.

Prof. Peiris said that the Judicial Services Association (JSA) consisting of District judges and Magistrates had raised the issue with Chief Justice K.Sripavan. The Chief Justice had told senior JSA representatives that the appointment was made consequent to request made by President Sirisena. According to Prof. Peiris, the CJ had claimed that President received a request from the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) in this regard. “Now, we are told the BASL never sought presidential intervention in this regard.”

Prof. Peiris said that the government couldn’t remain silent on this matter. Having campaigned on a platform of transparency and accountability, yahapalana rulers seemed to be pursuing an agenda inimical to the judiciary.

Prof. Peiris said that 39 members of the JSA had been deprived of due promotion as a result of the political appointment. Claiming that the JSA had already written to President Sirisena in this regard, Prof. Peiris said that JSA members would boycott the forthcoming election of BASL office bearers unless remedial action was taken.

Prof. Peiris alleged that those who had benefited at the expense of the national economy as a result of Central Bank bind scams were in an accelerated project to acquire shares in key ventures. The former law professor claimed that they could be even eying Srilankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka. Pointing out that a Commission of Inquiry had been appointed to probe the alleged Central Bank bond scam nearly two years after the fraud, Prof. Peiris said that the country was heading for a massive economic crisis.