The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) informed that the unofficial bar does not and cannot be a party to recent unbecoming attacks on the judiciary in the form of scurrilous criticism in the social media and would pursue all options available to overcome such irresponsible conduct.
Speaking at the ceremonial welcome given to President’s Counsel (PC) Prasanna Jayawardena upon elevation to the Supreme Court bench as a Justice, President of the BASL, PC Geoffrey Alagaratnam said that while the private bar is mindful that judges do not have a voice and that they are unable to defend themselves in the public, as making public statements could endanger the dignity of the office or the judiciary as a whole, it is unfortunate that the media is being used to make scandalous allegations against judges instead of responsibly resorting to the available mechanisms to question the conduct of a judge.
Judges are human and are definitely not above the law or privileged in the application of the law but to irresponsibly attack or ridicule individual judges, apart from being a serious indictment on our state of civilization also undermines and destroys the foundations of democracy and our perception of the justice system, he noted.
There are much needed constitutional changes especially in the matter of the appointment, the security of tenure, the disciplining and the removal of judges as the present provisions are far from adequate in order to achieve the objective of an independent and competent justice system with little doubt of its integrity, he remarked.
He observed that the jurisprudence emanating from the apex Court could only be strengthened and enriched by a healthy mix of persons from members of the career judiciary and those of the official and unofficial bars.
“The system of justice itself should have effective internal controls to instill public confidence. Otherwise, we will be frequently confronted with the oft repeated refrain ‘who will guard the guards?’. We have always stood for a system of judicial audit to assess the performance of a judge for competence, ability, attitude and conduct rather than a judge’s career advancement being determined by mere seniority and the absence of bad conduct. We need to constantly review and focus on the quality of justice in which all of us are equal stakeholders. Constant engagement, review and nudging of all relevant stakeholders are essential if we are to see improvement and advancement in our deliverables in the cause of justice,” he explained.