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Chief Justice of Sri Lanka

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Title: Chief Justice of Sri Lanka  
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Chief Justice of Sri Lanka

Chief Justice of Sri Lanka
අග්‍ර විනිශ්චයකාර
Mohan Peiris

since 15 January 2013
Style The Honourable Justice
Appointer President of Sri Lanka
Term length Until the age of sixty-five years
Inaugural holder Edmund Codrington Carrington
Formation Royal Charter of Justice of 1801
Website Supreme Court of Sri Lanka
Coat of arms of Sri Lanka, showing a lion holding a sword in its right forepaw surrounded by a ring made from blue lotus petals which is placed on top of a grain vase sprouting rice grains to encircle it. A Dharmacakra is on the top while a sun and moon are at the bottom on each side of the vase.
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Sri Lanka

The Chief Justice of Sri Lanka is the head of the judicial system of Sri Lanka and is the chief judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. The Chief Justice is one of ten Supreme Court justices; the other nine are the Puisne Justices of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. The post was created in 1801.

The Chief Justice is appointed by the President of Sri Lanka with the nomination of the Parliamentary Council. The Chief Justice, The Justices of the Supreme Court and The Justices of the Court of Appeal are addressed as "Your Lordship" and receives the title "The Honourable Justice".

The first Chief Justice was Codrington Edmund Carrington. The 44th and current Chief Justice is Mohan Peiris.


  • History 1
    • Current Chief Justice 1.1
  • Appointment 2
  • Duties 3
  • List of Chief Justices 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The office of Chief Justice traces its origins back with the founding the Royal Charter of Justice of 1801 by the British. With the establishment of the Supreme Court it was to consist of one principal Judge who shall be called "The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Judicature in the Island of Ceylon" and One other Judge, who was to be called "The Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Judicature in the Island of Ceylon". The charter required the Chief Justice and Puisne Justice to have not less than Five Years experience as Barristers, in England or Ireland to be named and appointed.

The post was first held by Codrington Edmund Carrington.[1]

Current Chief Justice

The current Chief Justice is The Honourable Justice Mohan Peiris PC. He was appointed on 15 January 2013 following the controversial Impeachment of Shirani Bandaranayake, the first woman to hold the position. Peiris was elevated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa with the approval of the Parliamentary Council. Peiris' appointment drew some criticism. Peiris is considered to be an ally of President Rajapaksa and his appointment was seen by critics as further consolidation of power by the president and his family.[2][3] Prior to his appointment he was Chairman of Seylan Bank, Senior Legal Officer to the Cabinet and held the post of Attorney General. Peiris was officially inaugurated as Chief Justice at a ceremony in the Supreme Court on 23 January 2013. Peiris is a Roman Catholic.



The appointment and removal of Judges of the Supreme Court is outlined in Chapter XV Article 107. of the Sri Lankan Constitution. It states that "the Chief Justice and every other Judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President of the Republic by warrant under his hand". Judges of the Supreme Court shall hold office until the age of retirement of sixty-five years. Article 109. describes appointments of an acting Chief Justice or Judge of the Supreme Court. The President shall appoint another Judge of the Supreme Court to act in the office of Chief Justice when the incumbent is "temporarily unable to exercise, perform and discharge the powers, duties and functions of his office, by reason of illness, absence from the country or any other cause" during such period. Each person appointed to or to act as Chief Justice or a Judge of the Supreme Court shall only take office and enter upon its duties after he or she takes and subscribes or makes and subscribes before the President, the oath or the affirmation set out in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution.[4]

Oath of office
"I ............................................................. do solemnly declare and affirm / swear that I will faithfully perform the duties and discharge the functions of the office of Chief Justice in accordance with the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the law, and that I will be faithful to the Republic of Sri Lanka and that I will to the best of my ability uphold and defend the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka."[5]
Removal of office

Judges of the Supreme Court shall hold office during good behaviour. Removal of a judge shall only proceed with an address of the Parliament supported by a majority of the total number of Members of Parliament, (including those who are not present), and then by an order of the President. Reasons for such removal should be on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.[4]


The Chief Justice serves as Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission which consist two Judges of the Supreme Court appointed by the President of the Republic.[4] Other duties of the Chief Justice include nominating judges, as may be necessary, to each such High Court. Every Judge shall be transferable by the Chief Justice.[6]

List of Chief Justices

  • § Served as provisional
  • ¤ Chief Justice and President of the Council
  • ° Impeachment charges brought against
  • Elevated from Associate Justice
  • Died in office

Data based on:

  • Amerasinghe, A. Ranjit B (1986), The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka: the first 185 years, Sarvodaya[7]
  • Chief Justices, 2009, Judicial Service Commission Secretariat[8]
Name Province Term Elevated by
Chief Justice of Ceylon (1801-1972)
1 Codrington Edmund Carrington England March 1801 - 2 April 1806 North
2 Edmund Henry Lushington England 15 April 1807 - 1809 Maitland
3 Alexander Johnston¤ Scotland 6 November 1811 - 1819 Wilson
4 Ambrose Hardinge Giffard Ireland 8 April 1819 – 2 March 1827 Barnes
5 Richard Ottley 1 November 1827 - 1833
6 Charles Marshall 18 February 1833 – 3 March 1836 Wilmot-Horton
7 William Norris 27 April 1836 - 1837
8 Anthony Oliphant Scotland 22 October 1838 - 1854 Stewart-Mackenzie
9 William Ogle Carr England 17 April 1854 - 1856 Anderson
10 William Carpenter Rowe 1857 - 1859 Ward
11 Edward Shepherd Creasy England 27 March 1860 - 1875
12 William Hackett 3 February 1877 - 1877 Gregory
13 John Budd Phear England 18 October 1877 - 1879 Longden
14 Richard Cayley England 1 October 1879 - 1882
15 Jacobus de Wet South Africa 31 May 1882 – 29 May 1883
16 Bruce Burnside Bahamas 21 May 1883 - 1893
17 John Winfield Bonser England 13 November 1893 - 1902 Havelock
18 Charles Layard Western Province 26 April 1902 – 18 June 1906 Ridgeway
19 Joseph Turner Hutchinson England 23 October 1906 - 1 May 1911 Blake
20 Alfred Lascelles England 1 May 1911 - 1914 McCallum
21 Alexander Wood Renton 22 August 1914 - 1918 Chalmers
22 Anton Bertram England 26 July 1918 - 1925 Anderson
23 Charles Ernest St. John Branch 3 July 1925 – 25 May 1926 Manning
24 Stanley Fisher 11 December 1926 - 1930 Clifford
25 Philip James Macdonell 3 October 1930 - 1936 Thomson
26 Sidney Abrahams England 3 July 1936 – December 1939 Stubbs
27 John Curtois Howard 1 December 1939 - 1949 Caldecott
28 Arthur Wijewardena 15 January 1949 - 1950 Moore
29 Edward Jayetileke 1950 - 11 October 1951
30 Alan Rose England 11 October 1951 - 1956
31 Hema Henry Basnayake 1 January 1956 – 31 July 1964 Viscount Soulbury
32 Miliani Sansoni 1964 - 17 November 1966 Gopallawa
33 Hugh Fernando 1966 - 17 November 1973
Chief Justice of Sri Lanka (1972–present)
34 Gardiye Punchihewage Amaraseela Silva 1973 - 1974 Gopallawa
35 Victor Tennekoon Central Province 1 January 1974 – 8 September 1977
36 Neville Samarakoon° 1977 – 21 October 1984 Jayewardene
37 Suppiah Sharvananda Northern Province 29 October 1984 – 1988
38 Parinda Ranasinghe 1988 - 1991
39 Herbert Thambiah Northern Province 1991 Premadasa
40 G. P. S. de Silva 1991 - 1999
41 Sarath N. Silva 16 September 1999 – 7 June 2009 Kumaratunga
42 Asoka de Silva 8 June 2009 – 17 May 2011 Rajapaksa
43 Shirani Bandaranayake° North Western Province 18 May 2011 – 13 January 2013
44 Mohan Peiris 15 January 2013 – Present

See also


  1. ^ "History of Supreme Court". Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Crabtree, James (15 January 2013). "Sri Lanka appoints new chief justice".  
  3. ^ Francis, Krishan (15 January 2013). "Sri Lankan leader replaces chief justice with ally".  
  4. ^ a b c "Chapter XV - The Judiciary". Constitution of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Fourth Schedule". Constitution of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "Chapter XVIIA". Constitution of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Amerasinghe, A. Ranjit B (1986), The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka : the first 185 years, Sarvodaya Book Pub. Services,  
  8. ^ "Overview". Judicial Service Commission Secretariat. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 

External links

  • Supreme Court of Sri Lanka
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