COLOMBO - Two vice presidents of International Council of Jurists (ICJ) and Pakistan’s Chief Justice have contradicted the letter issued to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by ICJ President Dr Adish C Agrawal approving the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and expressing support to new CJ Mohan Peiris.

Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Ministry gave wide publicity to this letter with the names of the vice presidents of the ICJ, reported The Daily Mirror.

Two British jurists who were cited as vice presidents of the ICJ protested against statement of President Rajapaksa and claimed they were not aware of the letter to Sri Lanka on the controversial impeachment. This statement has led to Justice Gavin’s resignation from the council which had issued the controversial statement.

Two weeks ago, writing to the Sri Lankan president, International Council of Jurists (ICJ) President Dr Adish C Agrawal justified the impeachment of Shirani Bandaranayake and approved the procedure. Agrawal who is also the president of All India Bar Association had written to President Rajapaksa, “We take this opportunity to assure that the Sri Lankan govt has not committed wrong in removing Chief Justice Ms Shirani Bandaranayake as the removal proceedings were absolutely in accordance with the prevalent Sri Lankan laws.”

Responding to the situation one of the vice presidents and a British Jurist, Sir Justice Gavin Lightman, told The Daily Mirror, “I was never consulted on the statement issued by Agrawal purportedly on behalf of the (Indian) International Council of Jurists on the topic of the impeachment of the chief justice of Sri Lanka.

 If I had been consulted, I would have strongly objected to it.” 

Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has also disassociated himself from the ICJ statement on the impeachment of Dr Bandaranayake. “It is clarified that no support has ever been extended by the chief justice of Pakistan to the decision of removing Chief Justice Dr Shirani Bandaranayake," a statement issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan said. “It was not its role to issue public statements on controversial topics such as the impeachment of the chief justice without the agreement of its officers and in particular its international vice presidents," British High Court judge Justice Gavin said in an exclusive interview.

Meanwhile, another vice president and British jurist, Lord Baron Navnit Dholakia, whose name was mentioned as a vice president in the ICJ website, told the Daily Mirror that he had no connection to the said letter. In fact, he disassociated himself from the council sometime ago, he clarified.