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Appointment of President’s Counsel

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Appointment of President’s Counsel under the 8th Amendment to the Constitution conferred an unfair privilege discriminating against the other professionals. In fact, lawyers number just over 14,000. The rest of the professionals numbering a few hundred thousand are not recognized. These include academics, medical professionals, scientists, architects, economists, bankers, etc.

The practice of appointment of Queen’s Counsel ceased with the adoption of 1972 Constitution on May 22, 1972. The appellation changed to Senior Attorney-at-Law. 1978 Constitution maintained the same position.

Then 12 years later the 8th Amendment was pushed through on March 6, 1984 empowering the President to appoint President’s Counsel. The amendment mentions the colonial appendage Queen’s Counsel. Don’t we know that we shed shackles of colonialism with 1972 Constitution? Lawyers cannot even talk of an unbroken tradition.

In the proposed 19th Amendment, the 8th Amendment text is reintroduced as Article 33 (e).

Article 33 (e)

To appoint as President’s Counsel, attorneys-at-law who have reached eminence in the profession and have maintained high standards of conduct and professional rectitude. Every President’s Counsel appointed under this paragraph shall be entitled to all such privileges as were hitherto enjoyed by Queen’s Counsel;

 I suggest the removal of this OBNOXIOUS clause.

Anecdote: Two eminent President’s Counsel went to Embilipitiya to appear in the Students Disappearance case and tried their practice of manipulating dates (PC also means Postponement Champions). They were cut down to size by Judge Chandradasa Nanayakkara. Eminent PCs faded out and never returned. This was reported in the press.
J K Wijedasa

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