Dr.Shirani Bandaranayake who is regarded as the De-jure Chief Justice of Sri Lanka despite being “removed”from Office by President Mahinda Rajapaksa after what seemed like a “witch trial” was conducted by seven Government parliamentarians of an eleven member Parliamentary select Committee is being kept under Strict surveillance by “Officially” sanctioned Police acting “Unofficially”.
It is learnt that Police personnel assigned for her protection stationed in the vicinity of her residence at Lake Drive in Rajagiriya are behaving in an unacceptable and inappropriate manner under the guise of maintaining security.
The highly offensive activities of these Police personnel who seem to be acting on orders from the top amount to the Chief Justice being placed under intense scrutiny and monitoring.
Although former Attorney-General Mohan Peiris has been appointed as Chief Justice by President Rajapaksa the widely held view in Sri Lanka and abroad is that Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake remains the legitimate chief Justice of the Country despite being ousted from office.
She is regarded as the De-jure chief Justice.Mohan Peiris by virtue of being in occupation of office is seen as the De-facto Chief Justice.
Dr.Bandaranaike who voluntarily quit her official residence by the Wijerama –Bauddhaloka Rd Junction is now living at her private residence in Rajagiriya with husband Pradeepa Kariyawasam and son Shaveen.
Some Police personnel have been assigned for her protection who maintain a round the clock vigil at her residential premises.
The conduct of these personnel has raised serious doubts as to whether they are her “Protectors” or “Monitors”.
In a blatantly controversial move these personnel take possession of all letters and parcels being delivered under the pretext of checking them for possible harmful contents.
By doing so the Police take note of all letters and parcels received by the Chief Justice. Copies of letters are made covertly.
The intention seems to be to keep tabs on whatever correspondence Dr.Bandaranayake receives.
All people calling on her or visiting her are also checked and identities noted. Some are questioned about their occupation,address and purpose of visit etc
In effect what is being done unofficially by officially sanctioned cops is the monitoring of Dr.Bandaranayake’s mail and visitors.
All these activities are being done under the guise of protecting her and described as security measures.
It is also strongly suspected that electronic surveiilance has been mounted too. There is speculation within legal eagles that her phones are tapped and the house is bugged.
The authorities seem to be keen to find out who and who are in communication with Dr.Bandaranayake.
Although Dr.Bandaranayake “quit”her post gracefully in a dignified manner the Govt that “removed” her seems to be extremely insecure and suspicious about what she may do in the future.
Given the near universal condemnation of her removal the Rajapaksa regime is suspicious of potential actions by her that would undermine the President and Govt.Hence the intense surveillance!
The Govt is particularly concerned about Dr.Bandaranaike cooperating with powerful International forces and highlighting the grave injustice done to a chief justice by the Rajapaksa regime.
Dr.Bandaranayake however has evinced no desire to act in such a manner but the ruling Oligarchy remains paranoid on this count
The Govt is also continuing with its efforts to penalise Dr.Bandaranaike despite removing her from office.
The Department of Inland Revenue has raised a number of queries from her on monetary transactions mentioned during the impeachment resolution passed by Parliament. This is on the basis that she had not disclosed large amounts of money from certain transactions.
The Bribery Commissioners Dept has also sent the De-Jure Chief Justice “show cause”letters.
Dr.Bandaranayake has replied clearly to the queries but the “witch hunt”continues.
The legal action initiated against her husband Pradeepa Kariyaasam also continues.The case against the former head of the National savings Bank will be taken up in courts on February 28th.
Shirani Bandaranayake is currently occupied with helping her husband mount an effective legal defence in the case. According to informed sources She has no plans of leaving the country even for a short holiday until these matters are cleared.
Although Mr.Kariyawasam’s passport has been impounded Dr.Bandaranayake’s is not but she does not intend to go out at this juncture.
She is also deprived of all emoluments due to her as she took up a principled position on the impeachment issue opting to be removed with her self-respect and honour intact rather than succumb ingloriously to a convenient compromise.
Though ousted by Presidential decree Dr.Bandaranayake continues to regard herself as the chief justice of the Country.
This is the English text of the statement she released in all three languages at the time of her removal from office –
“I am the 43rd Chief Justice of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. As the Chief Justice, I have an obligation and an unwavering duty towards the judges, lawyers and the citizens at large of my country. I stand here before you today having been unjustly persecuted, vilified and condemned. The treatment meted out to me in the past few weeks, was an ordeal no citizen let alone the Chief Justice of the Republic should be subjected to. The 32 years of continuous service at the University of Colombo and the Supreme Court, during my 54 year lifespan, I have rendered in varying capacities towards my motherland, is rewarded unfortunately, in this unjust manner.
“Though I was accused and arbitrarily convicted by the Parliamentary Select Committee, I have been vindicated in the bastions of the law. I take solace in the fact that, the due process and the rules of natural justice of which I was and continue to be an advocate and a firm believer, have been upheld by the superior courts of this country. The Supreme Court, acknowledged by the Hon. Speaker as having the sole and exclusive jurisdiction in interpreting matters relating to the Constitution, in its recent interpretation, unequivocally declared that the PSC and its proceedings therein were unconstitutional and illegal. Moreover, a Writ of Certiorari was issued by the Court of Appeal quashing the findings of the PSC. Therefore, the decisions of the PSC are ultra-vires, null and void and have no force or validity in law.
“In the circumstances, in my country which is a democracy, where the rule of law is the underlying threshold upon which basic liberties exist, I still am the duly appointed legitimate Chief Justice. It is not only the office of Chief Justice, but also the very independence of the judiciary, that has been usurped. The very tenor of rule of law, natural justice and judicial abeyance has not only been ousted, but brutally mutilated. I have suffered because I stood for an independent judiciary and withstood the pressures. It is the People who are supreme and the Constitution of the Republic recognises the rule of law and if that rule of law had prevailed, I would not have been punished unjustly.
“The accusations levelled against me are blatant lies. I am totally innocent of all charges and had there been a semblance of truth in any allegation, I would not have remained even for a moment in the august office of the Chief Justice. I can stand before you today as the Chief Justice, a citizen and a human being, purely because of that very innocence.
“Since it now appears that there might be violence if I remain in my official residence or my chambers I am compelled to move out of my official residence and chambers particularly because the violence is directed at innocent people including judges, lawyers and committed members of the public.
The 16 years I have spent in the Supreme Court have been dedicated to uphold the rights of the people in this country. I have always considered it my solemn duty to protect, to the best of my ability, the life and liberty of human beings and the rights of children and their education. I have always acted to that end. I thank all those who stood with me and the greater cause to fight for the independence of the judiciary.”
DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org