In a significant move, a Fundamental Rights petition has been filed before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, seeking to halt the Constitutional Council’s decision to seek a report from the Chief Justice regarding certain judges of the Court of Appeal. The petition, filed on November 28, 2023, alleges that the Constitutional Council’s action is unprecedented and constitutes a grave infringement on the independence of the judiciary.
The crux of the petitioners’ argument lies in the unprecedented nature of the Constitutional Council’s questionnaire directed at the Chief Justice. They contend that such a move directly undermines the separation of powers and infringes upon the fundamental rights of both the petitioners and the citizens of the Republic.
The petitioners further assert that the questionnaire’s contents blatantly undermine judicial independence and contravene the fundamental principles of due administration of justice. They argue that the Constitutional Council’s actions are irrational and serve no legitimate purpose, raising serious concerns about the Council’s motives and intentions.
The timing of the Constitutional Council’s decision is particularly noteworthy, as it coincides with the President’s nomination of certain Court of Appeal judges for appointment to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. The petitioners allege that the Council’s questionnaire is an attempt to interfere with this process and influence the Chief Justice’s assessment of the nominated judges.
The Supreme Court’s decision on the petition is highly anticipated and will have far-reaching implications for the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka. If the Court rules in favour of the petitioners, it will send a strong message that the judiciary will not tolerate interference from any external body. However, if the Court rules in favour of the Constitutional Council, it could set a dangerous precedent, allowing the Council to encroach upon the judiciary’s domain.
The outcome of this case will undoubtedly shape the future of the Sri Lankan judiciary and its ability to uphold the rule of law impartially.