The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has once again demanded the resignation of Chief Justice Mohan Peiris over his alleged involvement in a coup attempt after the Presidential election.
BASL said that from or about 10th January 2015 onwards, there have been reports in the media that, Chief Justice Mohan Pieris was present at Temple Trees from prior to dawn on 09th January 2015 along with some others and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, at a time when there were discussions between such persons with regard to a possible scenario where former President Mahinda Rajapaksha would attempt to remain in office despite losing the popular vote.
A BASL statement said that “It is reiterated and emphasized that, it is absolutely essential for the Chief Justice and members of the Judiciary to remain strictly separate and uninvolved in political and executive decisions.
It is reiterated and emphasized that, a Member of the Judiciary should not even be present in a place where any such decisions are being discussed.
It is reiterated and emphasized that, the failure by any member of the Judiciary to strictly adhere to these Rules would, inter alia, constitute grave misbehaviour in addition to casting grave doubts on his or her impartiality in the event of such matters or related matters being canvassed in the Courts.
Following these Media Reports and other information, the Executive Committee of the BASL held an Emergency Meeting on the 11th of January, 2015 at which, based on the material available at the time, the Executive Committee requested Hon. Mohan Pieris, Chief Justice to deny that he was present at “Temple Trees” if these Reports are untrue, which would assist in protecting the honour and integrity of the Judiciary in the face of the aforesaid allegations.
Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe, Prime Minister has subsequently confirmed to the President of the BASL that, the Prime Minister saw Hon. Mohan Pieris, Chief Justice at “Temple Trees” at a time prior to dawn on 09th January 2015 when the Prime Minister went to “Temple Trees”.
The Media has reported and the BASL has been informed that, on 14th January 2015, Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs has lodged a Complaint with the Criminal Investigations Department stating, inter alia, that, in the early hours of 09th January 2015, at a time when the Election Results were being announced, former President Mahinda Rajapaksha, along with some others, at “Temple Trees”, in defiance of the franchise of the People, engaged in and/or attempted to engage in in a conspiracy to deprive the People of the Republic of their Sovereignty and/or to overawe, by means of criminal force or the show of criminal force, one or more of the Organs of Government and that Hon. Mohan Pieris, Chief Justice was present at and participated at discussions relating to same and/or conspired in the same.
The said Complaint alleges the commission and / or attempt to commit serious Offences against the State, including, but not limited to, a conspiracy to deprive and/or attempt to deprive the People of the Republic of their Sovereignty and / or to overawe and/or attempt to overawe, by means of criminal force or the show of criminal force, one or more of the Organs of Government (Section 115 of the Penal Code), and/or to procure and/or attempt to procure, otherwise than by lawful means, the alteration of any matter by Law established (Section 120 of the Penal Code).
Up to this date, Hon.Mohan Pieris, Chief Justice has not responded to the aforesaid request which called for a denial that he was present at “Temple Trees” from prior to dawn on 09th January 2015 when the aforesaid events are said to have taken place.
The Executive Committee of the BASL has been reliably informed that, further material has been subsequently obtained which establishes that, the Hon. Mohan Pieris, Chief Justice was present at “Temple Trees” from prior to dawn on 09th January 2015 when the aforesaid events took place.
The Executive Committee of the BASL regrets to states that, the aforesaid circumstances and uncontradicted Reports are causing grave and continuing damage to the honour and integrity of the entire Judiciary and resulting loss of confidence in the suitability of Hon. Mohan Pieris to continue to function as Chief Justice and, therefore, the Executive Committee of the BASL calls upon Hon. Mohan Pieris to tender his resignation from the Office of Chief Justice in order to preserve the honour and integrity of the Judiciary”.