President bypasses CC to appoint Appeal Court judges

President Mahinda Rajapaksa this week appointed two sitting High Court judges to the long vacant seats in the Court of Appeal by-passing the crippled Constitutional Council.

Ms. Rohini Perera and Mr. Sarath de Abrew were appointed to the Court of Appeal ignoring a request from the Attorney General to appoint a senior law officer of the Department to one of the vacancies.

The Presidential order also casts aside a communication from former President Chandrika Kumaratunga to appoint Deputy Solicitor General Anil Gooneratne to the first vacancy. Mr. Gooneratne's appointment last year could not be implemented because the Constitutional Council was unable to sit due to the inability of political parties represented in Parliament to fill some vacancies in the Council.The move to appoint two members from the judiciary also cuts across a previous convention that vacancies to the appellate courts be equally divided from among those serving as judges and those as state prosecutors and senior members of the private bar willing to join the judiciary.

The Presidential appointments come in the wake of growing criticism to the by-passing of the Constitutional Council in the manner of making appointments to the Police Commission, Public Service Commission, and now the senior Judiciary as stipulated by the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the President of the Court of Appeal Justice Andrew Somawansa has been promoted to the vacancy in the Supreme Court and Justice P. Balapatabendi has been appointed the new President of the Court of Appeal.

All four Justices will take their oaths of office tomorrow.

Rohini Perera began her legal career as a state counsel in the Attorney General’s Department in 1980 and she joined the judiciary as a Magistrate in 1982. She became a High Court judge in 1999 and served, Colombo in 2005.

Sarath De Abrew was appointed Magistrate in 1982 and served as District Judge in Tangalle from 1987-1990 during the height of the JVP insurrection.He was appointed High Court Judge in 1999.


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