PCs issue in Supreme Court | Sunday Observer

PCs issue in Supreme Court

21 July, 2019

A lawyer has petitioned the Supreme Court seeking an interim order preventing the appointment of any Attorneys-at-Law, except officers of the Attorney General’s Department, as President’s Counsel until the a case challenging any new PC appointments has been heard and concluded.

The petition has named the Attorney General, secretary to the President Udaya Ranjith Seneviratne, President of the Sri Lanka Bar Association (BASL) Kalinga Indatissa (PC) and secretary of the BASL attorney at law Kaushalya Nawaratne as respondents. Accordingly the petition highlights the need to establish a guiding criteria or guidelines to be followed in appointing President’s Counsels.

It further prays for the court to declare that in the event an executive action is allowed to appoint President’s Counsels it will tantamount to an infringement of his fundamental rights enshrined under article 12(1) and 14(1)(g).

The petitioner also seeks the intervention of the Supreme Court to formulate criteria and procedure which should be followed during such appointment or in the alternative to Make Order directing the Respondents to formulate a criteria and procedure which should be followed during the appointment. The Petition highlights that during the term of this presidency a total of 75 lawyers have been appointed as President’s Counsel.

Earlier this month the Bar Association President, President’s Counsel Kalinda Indatissa in a letter to the President highlighted the need to consider several criteria before appointing president’s counsels and even maybe to consider obtaining view from the Chief Justice, the Attorney General and the Bar Association. It further requests not to appoint any president’s counsels on the recommendation on any cabinet ministers, the petition states.

The petition raising grave concerns over the qualification of the lawyers considered to be appointed states:

“Suffice it to state however, that where there are several appointees who have not completed at least 25 years of active practice in the bar, not in active practice and/or do not have an extensive practice in the Bar or contributed in any way to the development of the legal profession or the law and it is apparent that the appointments are made on the basis of irrelevant considerations which are, to say the least.

Earlier this month, the BASL also raised the issue with President Sirisena urging the executive to select PCs based on suitability criteria that is previously agreed upon.