An independent, impartial, honest and competent judiciary is integral to upholding the rule of law, engendering public confidence and dispensing justice. Judicial appointments should not be made on the basis of political considerations. Due consideration should be given to career judicial officers who have worked hard to administer justice over their entire careers. If these salutary rules are breached, the outcome and its impact on the rule of law would be devastating.
Judges must be given security of tenure, there must be independent procedures put in place for their appointment and removal.Judges must be financially secure. As a profession, we shall not accept any compromise in the integrity of the judiciary. We have seen frequent instances where the principle of equality before law appears to have been undermined, especially in cases involving influential persons. There appears to have been several instances of apparent impunity for politically influential persons who openly violate the law. It seems the rule rather than the exception that the law that applies to people with right connections can be different to the law that applies to the powerless and the people with divergent views. It is the responsibility of the judiciary and the legal fraternity to collectively strive to remedy this crisis of confidence, which has eroded in immeasurable manner. This solemn function cannot be discharged without the commitment of the legal profession.
The judiciary stands between the citizen and the state as a bulwark against the executive excesses of misuse or abuse of power or the transgression of constitutional or legal limitation by the executive as well as the legislature.
It must be a quality which is part of the very fabric of the judge’s existence; but even so, judges must not be exposed to executive threats, inducements and must remain independent and fearless.
The integrity and independence of legal systems and judicial institutions and the very law itself cannot be of concern to only lawyers and judges in Sri Lanka. Rather, it is of ultimate concern of all citizens to have regard and respect for the rule of law and it is the paramount duty of both the judiciary and the bar to guard and protect the rule of law and, as the elected head of the bar, I can state with all conviction that the bar will discharge this duty and that we are confident and trust that the judiciary will do so too.
This was stated by the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka at the Ceremonial Welcome of Justice Malini Gunaratne to the Appeal Court.