Feb 07, Colombo: The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has expressed 'grave concern' on the move to initiate criminal proceedings against the former Chief Justice Mohan Pieris PC and Justice A.H.M.D Nawaz, a sitting Judge of the Court of Appeal.
The criminal proceedings against them have been initiated on the basis of professional advice given by them in their former capacities as the Attorney General and Deputy Solicitor General respectively, according to BASL.
Addressing a press conference at the BASL Auditorium its Secretary Amal Randeniya said the Executive Committee and the Bar Council of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) had unanimously resolved to view with grave concern the initiation of criminal proceedings against former Chief Justice Mohan Pieris PC and Justice A.H.M.D. Nawaz not from the stand point of the individuals concerned, but as a matter affecting the Bar, independence of the Judiciary, rule of Law and the interests of the public at large.
The Bribery Commission on January 18 filed a corruption case in the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court against former CJ, Peiris and Justice Nawaz over an allegation that they conferred a wrongful or unlawful benefit, and favor or advantage on the perpetrators who had been accused of misappropriating funds belonging to Lanka Electricity Company (Private) Limited (LECO).
"While we do not in any way intend to obstruct or interfere with the course of Justice or the right of Law enforcement institutions to carry their functions, our concern stems not from the stand point of the individuals concerned, but as a matter affecting the Bar, the independence of the Judiciary, rule of Law and the interests of the public at large," BASL said.
The BASL secretary noted that the Attorney General and the Solicitor General are duty bound to give advice and their opinion on legal matters.
"An opinion could either be right or wrong. The professional advice given by the AG and Solicitor General or their deputies should not be a cause to initiate criminal proceedings. If not, the individuals holding such office would hesitate to discharge their functions. It would not set a good example," Randeniya said.
"We also wish to stress that unless a charge against a judge involves any moral turpitude such will not in any way undermine the confidence the Bar has in the Judge concerned," the Bar Association said.