Sri Lanka President’s Secretary responds to Bar Association on Attorney General appointment

Saman Ekanayake

Sri Lanka President’s Secretary, Saman Ekanayake

Sri Lanka President’s Secretary, Saman Ekanayake, has responded to a letter from the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) regarding the appointment of a new Attorney General following the retirement of Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC.

Ekanayake highlighted that, under Article 41C of the Constitution, the President is empowered to appoint the Attorney General with the approval of the Constitutional Council. He clarified that there is no constitutional requirement to appoint the senior-most officer from the Attorney General’s Department to this position based on seniority.

Historically, this practice has not been followed in Sri Lanka. Past appointments, such as those of Sarath N. Silva, PC, and Mohan Peiris, PC, were made from outside the department’s senior ranks.

Ekanayake also cited the example from 2016 when President Maithripala Sirisena recommended multiple candidates, resulting in the Constitutional Council approving Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, as Attorney General. Ekanayake advised the BASL not to advocate for the claims of a single candidate among other qualified individuals.

He emphasized the need for a broad consideration of all potential candidates to ensure the appointee commands the confidence of the President and the Cabinet.

Earlier, the BASL had sent a letter to Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, urging the appointment of the senior-most officer in the Attorney General’s Department to fill the vacancy left by Rajaratnam.

The BASL emphasized that this practice honours the principle of seniority, ensures continuity and stability, and respects the established hierarchy within the department.

Signed by BASL Secretary Chathura A. Galhena, the letter stressed the Attorney General’s critical role in upholding the rule of law and ensuring proper administration of justice. The BASL urged the President to consider their concerns favourably.