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My removal unconstitutional - Mohan Peiris

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Justice Mohan Peiris, whose appointment as Chief Justice was declared null and void by the government of President Maithripala Sirisena, yesterday insisted that he had not vacated his position as Chief Justice but has been ‘displaced from office by an unconstitutional process’.

In a statement issued to the media, Peiris stated, “I have not retired, resigned or vacated my office of Chief Justice, but due to exertions by external forces reinforced by an extra judicial chain of events, find myself displaced from office by an unconstitutional process having functioned continuously in my appointment for over two years.”

In a lengthy statement, Peiris added “There are times when might overtakes right and the helpless have to succumb to injustice”.

Stating that he saw himself as a Chief Justice and a citizen, Peiris went onto state that he looked upon the example set by Chief Justice Neville Samarakoon Queen’s Counsel, ‘who held his head high and never sacrificed principle or sought to divide judges and lawyers on the plight that befell him.’

Peiris defended his appointment as the Chief Justice, noting that he was appointed to the post after his predecessor, Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, was ‘removed by the required Parliamentary majority (155 to 49)’ and after a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) had found Dr. Bandaranayake guilty of some of the charges that had been laid against her.

 “It is significant that Hon Rajitha Senaratne was a member of panel of inquiry that probed the charges against Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake and found her unanimously guilty with the other members on some charges and acquitted on others and the Hon President Maithripala Sirisena spoke and voted in favor of the removal of the former Chief Justice.”

He claimed that it appears that the Executive has now sought to arrogate to itself a non-existent power by usurping the power of the legislature and thus engage itself in an unconstitutional process in an endeavor to remove him as the Chief Justice.

“This is unlawful and violates the principle of the separation of powers which is a fundamental feature of our Constitution and renders the exercise futile. As such all consequential acts will be tainted with illegality,” he emphasized.

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