FR case on appointment of President’s Counsel tomorrow

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The FR application filed by Senior Attorney-at-Law Upul Kumarapperuma, against the criteria that had been followed on the appointment of President’s Counsels will be taken up tomorrow before the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya and Justices Gamini Amarasekera and S. Thurairajah.

According to the petition, at present, there is no specific and transparent criteria or procedure that is available to the members of the Bar to decide whether they are entitled to apply for ‘Silk’ and/or to assess whether they are eligible to be appointed as President’s Counsel. A study of the appointments since the year 2017, clearly demonstrates that even the criteria previously used, taking into consideration convention and custom in the legal profession has not been followed by the incumbent President and thus the Petitioner verily believes that the present process of appointing President’s Counsel lends itself to arbitrariness.

By letter dated July 18, 2018 (Ref:PS/LD/237/2018) President’s Secretary Udaya R. Seneviratne wrote to the President of Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) stating that only those who have completed 25 years in the Bar are eligible to apply for the selection of PCs although according to the petition, PCs have been appointed to those who have not met the required years of service.

The petition further states, ‘By a letter dated 5th July 2019, addressed to the President, the President BASL Kalinga Indatissa PC has inter alia raised serious concerns about the procedure and criteria adopted in appointing President’s Counsel and has specifically mentioned that President’s Counsel should not be appointed merely on the recommendations of Cabinet Minister or Members of Parliament or for other irrelevant considerations and President’s Secretary has also offered the assistance of the BASL in formulating criteria with regard to the appointment of President’s Counsel.

The Petitioner reiterates that since 2017, the President has appointed 75 PC’s from the private bar on three occasions and states that there does not seem to be a discernible criteria in that as the President has not acted even in terms of the invitation to seek applications where there are several appointees who have not completed at least 25 years of active practice in the bar, not in active practice and/or do not have an extensive practice in the Bar or contributed in anyway to the development of the legal profession or the law and it is apparent that the appointments are made on the basis of irrelevant considerations which are, to say the least, irrational and specious.

When contacted President of the BASL, Kalinga Indatissa PC for a comment, Indatissa said that he cannot make any comment as he is one of the Respondents to the case.