Image: Police sans a head!
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) yesterday (19) stated that it may consider legal action against the granting of service extensions to Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana D. Wickramaratne without the Constitutional Council’s (CC) approval.
The BASL argues that technically there is no IGP in the country at present, as the latest service extension granted to Wickramaratne by President and Defence Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was not approved by the CC.
While the CC did not grant its approval to the third service extension granted to Wickramaratne as the IGP, it was recently reported that the majority CC members were also declining to approve the fourth service extension granted to him.
Speaking to The Daily Morning yesterday (19), BASL President, attorney Kaushalya Nawaratne said that it is with the CC’s approval that the President should appoint the IGP. “In this case, the President has granted a service extension, but the CC has refused to approve it. This means technically there has been no valid extension of service to the post of the IGP, which means there is no IGP in the country at present. I do not know if the IGP (Wickramaratne) is practically discharging his duties, but one can shapely argue that the service extension granted to him is invalid in law.” Nawaratne opined.
He also said that the granting of service extensions to Wickramaratne without giving regard to the CC’s approval could be challenged before the law. “The manner in which the IGP should be appointed is set out in the law. If it has not been complied with, or followed, it can surely be challenged.” In response to a query as to whether the BASL would resort to any move, he said: “We will go into anarchy if there is no IGP in the country. So, we, as the BASL, will take this matter into serious consideration, and take appropriate actions.”
Wickramaratne was appointed as the Acting IGP in April 2019, and was confirmed in the position on 25 November 2020. He was scheduled to retire in March 2023, and was granted a three-month service extension by the President, which ended on 26 June. The Police Department functioned without the presence of an IGP for about two weeks, until Wickramaratne was again granted the second three-month service extension by the President on 9 July, which came to an end on 9 October. He was then granted the third service extension for another three weeks on 13 October, and the fourth service extension on 03 November.
The Constitution states that no person shall be appointed by the President to any of the Offices including that of the IGP unless such appointment has been approved by the CC upon a recommendation made to it by the President.