Two new non-resident Justices of Appeal sworn in |30 November 2023
Two non-resident Justices of Appeal were sworn in yesterday morning during a ceremony at State House.
Judge Karuna Gunesh-Balaghee and Justice Janak De Silva took their oath before Vice-President Ahmed Afif, in the absence of President Wavel Ramkalawan.
Also present were the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Anthony Fernando; Chief Justice, Rony Govinden; Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Gervais Henrie; justices of the Court of Appeal; judges of the Supreme Court; secretaries of state; members of the Constitutional Appointments Authority and senior officials in the President’s Office.
Their appointments came after President Wavel Ramkalawan received recommendations from the Constitutional Appointments Authority (CAA).
“It is a very important arm of the government as we see you as protectors/guardians of Justice and individual rights of Seychelles. I have confidence that the two new appointees will bring their expertise, their hard work and their due diligence in applying the law in a way that’s fair. Decisions you take will affect individuals and corporations.”
VP Afif also expressed gratitude to the CAA for its hard work to make sure Seychelles has two qualified individuals for the job. “The government is committed to ensuring that we give every assistance possible to all arms of the government to ensure that they can function as the people expect them to with the right resources,” added VP Afif.
Judge Karuna Gunesh-Balaghee from Mauritius has 28 years of legal experience in positions of State Counsel, Senior State Counsel, Principal State Counsel, Director of Legal Department, Assistant and Parliamentary Counsel, Attorney General’s Office and as Judge of the Supreme Court of Mauritius.
“I accept this nomination with great humility. This is an important responsibility placed on me by the CAA and I thank them for that. I hope I will deliver according to the expectations and for sure I am counting on the collaboration of my colleagues here in the administration of Justice in Seychelles without fear,” noted Judge Gunesh-Balaghee.
She also noted that Seychelles and Mauritius have laws and civil code that derived from the French law, meaning their laws were quite similar. “I will have time to learn more about the system here and I am very much interested in the administration of Justice no matter where we live.”
Justice Janak De Silva from Sri Lanka has 32 years of legal experience including 25 years in public prosecution as a State Counsel, Senior State Counsel, Deputy Solicitor General. He also served as judge of the Court of Appeal three years ago, and is currently a Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka since December 1, 2020.
“In a judicial capacity, this is my first appointment outside Sri Lanka. I am very happy for the confidence CAA has put in me and I see this as an opportunity to work with different judicial officers from different countries and get a different experience out of the country. After my appointment, I have been familiarising myself with the Justice system in Seychelles,” shared Justice De Silva.
The Justices of Appeal have been appointed in accordance with article 123 of the Constitution and they both took the Oath of Allegiance and the Judicial Oath. They have been sworn in for a five-year term.
The Judiciary explained it is not replacing any existing Justice’s role permanently but would sit in if any Resident Justices of Appeal are not available. According to the Judiciary, they are already expected to be present for three Court of Appeal cases next month, as there are Resident Justices who have recused themselves or have been asked to be recused. In addition, they will also be hearing other cases.
The non-Resident Justices will only be paid when they are asked to fill in for a Resident Justice of Appeal, added the Judiciary. It followed an amendment made last year after recommendation by the President of the Court of Appeal, Anthony Fernando, to help with budgetary constraints and to relieve state funds.
The Court of Appeal sits for three terms each year. These are during the vacation of the Supreme Court and are generally April, August and December.
Vidya Gappy/press release from the Judiciary
Photos: Joena Meme