BASL reaffirms commitment to judicial independence amidst Parliamentary controversy

Bar Association of Sri Lanka - BASL

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) issued a strong statement today (June 25), reiterating its dedication to preserving the independence of the judiciary and upholding the rule of law.

This declaration comes in response to recent speeches made by the Minister of Justice and several Members of Parliament during a debate on June 19, 2024.

The BASL has taken note of a statement from the Judicial Services Association of Sri Lanka regarding these speeches. In its own statement, the BASL emphasized its unwavering support for an independent and fearless judiciary, which it views as essential for maintaining the rule of law.

The BASL acknowledged the importance of addressing any alleged misconduct by judicial officers through impartial investigations. It asserted that if misconduct is proven, it must be dealt with severely, given the sacrosanct nature of the judicial office in the eyes of the public.

However, the BASL expressed deep concern over references made during the parliamentary debate to the official conduct of individual judges and specific orders issued in ongoing court cases, particularly those involving the Minister of Justice as a litigant.

The association believes that the disciplinary control of judicial officers within the minor judiciary is the sole purview of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and that this authority should remain free from legislative interference.

The BASL views the parliamentary statements as a serious threat to the rule of law and judicial independence. It argues that such comments, made under the protection of parliamentary privilege, constitute unwarranted interference in judicial functions.

The association is particularly concerned that these statements could undermine public confidence in the judiciary by sending misleading messages about the conduct and integrity of judges.

In its concluding remarks, the BASL urged Members of Parliament to refrain from interfering with judicial functions or the operations of the JSC.

It warned that statements made under parliamentary privilege could have far-reaching consequences, potentially eroding public trust and confidence in the country’s judicial system.