Election of Wijedasa Rajapaksa (MP) as New BASL President a Sign of Politicising the Legal Profession and Compromising Judicial Independence
Posted on February 26th, 2012

Dilrook Kannangara

Bar Association of Sri Lanka has a new president “”…” Wijedasa Rajapaksa “”…” who is currently a Member of Parliament. It may be one of few instances or the first time a member of parliament became the president of BASL. It is certainly not a healthy sign. Active senior politicians holding high office in Bar Association politicises the legal profession. Although Bar Association is only the professional association of lawyers, it exercises tremendous power in the profession. That is why it is always best not to have members of parliament creep into the top posts of BASL.

Wijedasa Rajapaksa is a UNP MP elected from the Colombo District. His day job is politician. He was associated with the JVP early in his political career. He crossed over from the UPFA to UNP a few years ago in his short inconsistent political career. While in the UPFA he held a ministerial portfolio and once he was the Chairman of the Lakehouse Group.

There was a time when BASL members upheld protocol and respected the separation of politics from the professional body. Unfortunately not anymore.

In this context it is futile to blame the government and the ruling party for political interference in the judiciary. The Opposition, the UNP in particular is also interfering with it. This will set a very bad precedence in BASL where politicians using their political influence interfere with the apex lawyers’ body and the legal profession.

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