Pakistan CJ disowns letter over Lankan CJ removal


Two International Council of Jurists (ICJ) Vice Presidents and Chief Justice (CJ) of Pakistan have renounced the letter issued to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Council President Dr Adish C. Agrawal approving the impeachment of Sri Lankan Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and expressing support to new CJ Mohan Peiris.
Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Ministry gave wide publicity to this letter along with the names of the vice presidents of the ICJ.
Two British jurists who were cited as vice presidents of the ICJ registered their protest against the statement with President Rajapaksa and claimed they were not aware about the letter sent to Sri Lanka on the controversial impeachment. This statement has led Justice Gavin to resign from the ICJ which had issued the controversial statement.
Two weeks ago, writing to the Sri Lankan President, ICJ President Dr Adish C Agrawal justified the impeachment of Shirani Bandaranayake and approved the procedure that followed.
Agrawal who is also the President of the All India Bar Association had written to President Rajapaksa, “We take this opportunity to assure that the Sri Lankan Government has not committed wrong in removing Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake as the removal proceedings were absolutely in accordance with the prevalent Sri Lankan laws.”
Responding to the situation, one of the vice presidents and a British jurist Sir Justice Gavin Lightman said, “I was never consulted on the statement issued by Agrawal purportedly on behalf of the (Indian) International Council of Jurists on the topic of the impeachment of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka. If I had been consulted, I would have strongly objected.”
Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has also disassociated himself from the ICJ statement on the impeachment of Dr Bandaranayake.
“It is clarified that no support has ever been extended by Chief Justice of Pakistan to the decision of removing Chief Justice Dr Shirani Bandaranayake,” a statement issued by the Pakistan’s Supreme Court said.
“It was not its role to issue public statements on controversial topics such as the impeachment of the chief justice without the agreement of its officers and in particular its international vice presidents,” British High Court judge Justice Gavin said in an exclusive interview.
Informing about his resignation from the council over the controversial letter sent to Sri Lankan President over the impeachment of Shirani Bandaranayake, Justice Gavin has written to Agrawal expressing his protest and his decision to disassociate himself from the council’s move.
Meanwhile, another vice president and British jurist, Lord Baron Navnit Dholakia whose name was mentioned as a vice president in the ICJ website, said he had no connection to the said letter and in fact had disassociated himself from the council sometime ago.