The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expressed alarm over recent attempts by officers of the Auditor General’s Department, purporting to exercise powers over the administration and functions of the courts.

“Such a purported exercise of powers by the Auditor General is an undue interference with the independence of the judiciary and the underlying doctrine of the separation of powers,” President, BASL, President’s Counsel Geoffrey Alagaratnam noted while adding that it constituted an offence in terms of Article 111(c) of the Constitution.

The BASL is presently making representations to the relevant authorities in this regard and added that they would resist such misconceived moves.

Speaking at the ceremonial welcome of former Additional Solicitor General, President’s Counsel Sithambarampillai Thurairaja as a Judge and Justice of the Court of Appeal, Alagaratnam also remarked that the unofficial bar was concerned with the recent vitriolic and scurrilous attacks on individual judges by the electronic and print media.

“The private bar will pursue appropriate action concerning these irresponsible attacks which affect the independence, integrity and reputation of the judiciary.  It amounts to an undermining of this institution which is vital for democracy,” he said.

“It is also disturbing that the media which should be in the forefront of protecting democracy should resort to such measures where the members of the judiciary who cannot be expected to have a public voice are subject to such ridicule instead of resorting to available civilized mechanisms for impugning the conduct or fitness of a judge if such be actually the case,” he observed.

Elsewhere, he pointed out that the country was encountering a shortage of judges conversant in Tamil which is one of the official languages enshrined in the Constitution.