In a letter to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) regarding the media reports on a meeting held for judicial officers, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) observed that litigants and their lawyers should have the confidence that judicial officers are free to decide cases on their own merits and not based on any other consideration.

The letter has been sent to JSC Chairman Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, JSC members Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare and Justice L.T.B. Dehideniya. The BASL letter has been sent under the signature of its President Saliya PierisPC and its Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya. The BASL said it compelled to issue this letter after drawing BASL’s attention by its several members regarding reports published in the media on a meeting / webinar held on Friday, 13th August for judicial officers titled “Matters relating to judicial proceedings in the context of the Covid-19 Pandemic” conducted by the Sri Lanka Judges’ Institute with the participation of non-judicial personnel.

The BASL observed that the contents of the meeting should not leave the impression, either in the mind of the participating judges or the public, that it has any bearing on the manner of the discharge of judicial functions or that it was intended to have the effect of stifling any judicial officer from the independent exercise of his or her judicial mind.

However, the BASL said any move to conduct a meeting to create awareness among judicial officers of the seriousness of the pandemic and the need to ensure that the courts are administered keeping in mind health guidelines are most welcome.


The BASL is of the view that as there is a strong possibility of an impression being created in the minds of judicial officers and of the public, that the above meeting was conducted with the aim of impressing upon judges to make particular orders in a particular manner, such an impression should be immediately addressed and if necessary be corrected, in the public interest and the interests of all those tasked with the administration of justice.

The BASL said the media reports claim that at this meeting that the issue of trade union protests and the role of the courts also came up for discussion and the judicial officers had been given instructions on the use of certain sections of the Criminal Procedure Code to control public gatherings on account of the pandemic situation in the country. The BASL further said according to the media reports there was a perception among judicial officers that there was an effort to impress upon them to give orders, the police request to curb protests.

The BASL said the perception that the media reports create, run contrary to the dictum laid down by Lord Hewart, the then Lord Chief Justice of England in the case of Rex v. Sussex Justices, [1924] 1 KB 256 that “justice must not only be done but must also be seem to be done”, a principle strongly ingrained in our legal system as well.

Drawing the attention of JSC to The Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, 2002, the BASL quoted the following code of conduct for judges. “A judge shall exercise the judicial function independently on the basis of the judge’s assessment of the facts and in accordance with a conscientious understanding of the law, free of any extraneous influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.”


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