Jan 23, Colombo: Sri Lanka's 44th Chief Justice Mohan Peiris officially assumed duties today at a ceremony held at the Hultsdorf Court Complex in Colombo amid protests from the country's lawyers.
Sri Lankan President appointed Peiris to the top post on January 15 following the impeachment of former Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake by the parliament.
Justice Peiris arrived at the Supreme Court complex in the morning to attend the ceremonial event and only the state media was allowed to cover the event.
All judges of the Supreme Court, Appeal Court, High Court, District Court and lawyers including some executive members of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka as well as officials from the Attorney General's Department had attended the ceremony despite the call by the lawyer's establishment to not to welcome the new Chief Justice.
President of the Bar Association, parliamentarin Wijedasa Rajapakshe however, was not present at the event.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka refrained from participating in the ceremony adhering to resolution adapted by the association not to welcome a new Chief Justice appointed by the government on the basis of a vacancy created by removing Dr. Bandaranayake through an impeachment process that has been held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Sri Lanka's Supreme Court earlier ruled that the parliamentary process that impeached Dr. Bandaranayake was illegal.
The welcome address was delivered by Chairman of the Bank of Ceylon, President's Counsel Razik Zarook while Attorney General Palitha Fernando also addressed the gathering.
Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal were among the invitees present at the ceremony.
Speaking at the event, Chief Justice Mohan Peiris said he expects the cooperation of all parties to uphold the country's law.
Impeachment of Dr. Bandaranayake and the subsequent appointment of Mohan Peiris, former Attorney General and Legal Adviser to the Cabinet drew worldwide criticism from the US, UK, Commonwealth and humanitarian organizations.
Peiris, a 38-year veteran of the legal profession and an eminent scholar of law, has strongly defended Sri Lanka's sovereignty against the interference from international community at the United Nations Human Right Council.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) viewing the impeachment of Dr. Bandaranayake as a gross interference in the independence of the judiciary and a calamitous setback for the rule of law in Sri Lanka, raised concerns about Peiris' s independence and impartiality, especially when handling allegations of serious human rights violations by the authorities.
(Photos by Government Information Department)