COLOMBO, Jan 15: Former Attorney General Mohan Peiris was sworn in on Tuesday as Sri Lanka’s 44th ChiefJustice, amid a raging controversy over the sacking of the previous CJ, Shirani Bandaranayake, by President Mahinda Rajapaksa last Sunday.
Bandaranayake’s dismissal, through an allegedly flawed process, had set a good section of Lanka’s judges and lawyers against the government and parliament, and invited widespread domestic and international criticism of the Rajapaksa regime.
Mohan Peiris had entered the bar in 1975, and joined the Attorney General’s Department as a state counsel in 1981. He had been in the AG’s department right through his career, rising to be the attorney general.
After retirement, he was functioning as President Rajapaksa’s Adviser on legal affairs. Peiris’ appointment as CJ had taken place amidst objections. The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) filed a Fundamental Rights petition in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, praying for the annulment of Peiris’ appointment on the grounds that there was “no valid vacancy”.
Meanwhile, outgoing CJ Ms Bandaranayake declared on Tuesday that she continued to be the chief justice because her removal had been both unfair and unconstitutional. Her position had been “usurped”, she said in a statement.