Bribery Commission seeks to suspend Supreme Court order

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Bribery Commission has filed an application in the Supreme Court (SC) seeking an order suspending the SC Interim Order dated February 26, 2018 preventing the Bribery Commission’s Director General from taking any further steps against former Chief Justice Mohan Peiris in the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court.

The three judge Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Eva Wanasundara, Justice Nalin Perera and Justice Prasanna Jayawardena on February 26 issued this Interim Order pursuant to a writ petition filed on behalf of former Chief Justice Mohan Peiris.This order will be effective until the final determination of this petition.

In its review application, the Bribery Commission stated that Justice Eva Wanasundara PC was biased and at minimum there was a strong and seeming appearance of bias or there was a conflict of interest in her participating in the proceedings.

The Bribery Commission further requested considering the general and public importance of this matter, in terms of Article 132(3) of the Constitution a Divisional Bench of five or more Justices of the Supreme Court consider this application.

The Bribery Commission stated that a Bench of the Supreme Court presided over by Justice Eva Wanasundara PC, acting Chief Justice, took up the writ petition filed by Mohan Peiris for support despite several Counsel requesting that the connected matters be taken up together.

Upon this application being taken up, it was disclosed in open Court by Senior Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Rajaratnam PC appearing for the Attorney General, that Justice Eva Wanasundara, during her tenure as Attorney General made certain minutes pertaining to facts and circumstances relevant to this subject matter in an official and confidential file of the Attorney General’s Department which he referred to as a “CF File”.

Certain documents were handed over to Justice Eva Wanasundara, acting Chief Justice by SASG Sanjay Rajaratnam PC, which were said to be copies thereof. While those documents were retained by Justice Wanasundara the content of same were not disclosed to the parties or counsel.

Acting Chief Justice Wanasundara, without disclosing the content of the documents so handed over, or the nature of the minutes she has made, inquired from Counsel appearing in SC Writ 22/2018, whether they had any objections to the Bench or Justice Wanasundara herself hearing the matter.

Being unaware of the content or nature of the aforesaid documents handed over to Her Ladyship, all Counsel indicated that they had no objection to the bench or Justice Wanasundara taking up the matter.

On January 18, the Bribery Commission filed a corruption case in the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court against former Chief Justice and former Attorney General Mohan Peiris, Court of Appeal Judge A.H.M.D. Nawaz and former Secretary to the Power and Energy Ministry M.M.C.Ferdinando.

This is over an allegation that they conferred a wrongful or unlawful benefit, and favour or advantage on the perpetrators who had been accused of misappropriating funds belonging to Lanka Electricity Company (LECO).

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