The President has decided to limit the maximum term of a Chief Justice to five years, it is reliably learnt.
The President has told several of his advisors on the 22nd that it was not good for one person to hold such an important post like the Chief Justice for too long.
The President has explained that although former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva is one of his close friends, he had during his tenure as Chief Justice had politicians dancing to his tune since he had been in the post for 10 years since he had the constitutional right to hold the post for such a period. Therefore, a Presidential directive was issued to make the necessary preparations to draft the legislation to limit the term of the Chief Justice to five years.
However, the Constitution allows the Chief Justice or any other members in the judiciary to hold their respective posts till the age of 65. Since the current Chief Justice, Shirani Bandaranayake is 54 years old; she could hold the post for 11 years.
Nevertheless, the President has recently told several ministers that Bandaranayake was appointed to the post of Chief Justice since she had assured him that she would hold the post only for five years. When inquired about the matter from a senior lawyer with close links to the Chief Justice, he said she had not made such a promise to the President.
The President and the Chief Justice are currently at loggerheads and the refusal of the Chief Justice to accept an invitation by the President for a discussion had further angered him.
The Chief Justice and Supreme Court Justices Gamini Ameratunge and S.I. Imam who are heads of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) had declined an invitation by the President for a discussion at Temple Trees on the suspension of District Judge Aravinda Perera and the transfer of Anuradhapura Magistrate Dharshika Wimalasiri. The Chief Justice and the judges have said they did not legally bound to explain the decisions taken by the JSC.
Justices Ameratunge and Imam have firmly said that it was demeaning for the JSC to explain the disciplinary action actions and transfers given to members of the judiciary and that it would also create a bad precedent.
The Chief Justice had then asked the Secretary of the JSC to issue a statement on the political pressures on the Commission.
Meanwhile, a scenario government minister said that the angry President had even discussed about bringing a doshabhiyoga against the Chief Justice. However, the President has the two thirds majority in parliament to bring such a motion against the Chief Justice to parliament.