Colombo: Sri Lanka's Chief Justice Mohan Peiris, under pressure to quit for being allegedly involved in a coup attempt against the new government, has refused to step down unless given a diplomatic posting overseas, a media report said on Friday.
The top judge's reported demand has triggered a face-off with the Maithripala Sirisena government and drawn rebukes from the judiciary.
Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) President Upul Jayasuriya said Peiris has made a diplomatic posting to the UK, Brazil or Italy the condition of his resignation.
"The Bar does not want a Chief Justice who begs for diplomatic postings," Jayasuriya told Daily FT.
Jayasuriya told the daily that the association would meet tomorrow to decide if lawyers would continue to work under Peiris.
"We will take whatever action we can take. We don't want to serve under this kind of beggar Chief Justice," he said.
The tussle between the new government and the Chief Justice came to the fore on Wednesday after ministers of the ruling party said Peiris had agreed to step down, while the Chief Justice insisted he has not resigned.
Peiris is under pressure to step down because of his controversial appointment as the head of the judiciary and his alleged presence at the Temple Trees on January 9, when an alleged attempt to trigger a coup was made by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Peiris, who was appointed 44th Chief Justice by Rajapaksa after the impeachmenet of Shirani Bandaranayake, is one of the suspects in the investigation into the alleged coup attempt.
Media reports in Sri Lanka suggested that Bandaranayake could be to be reinstated after Peiris demits office.
Wijeratne Kodipilli, a lawyer who said he was instructed to speak on behalf of Peiris, has rubbished claims of the Chief Justice's resignation.
"There is absolutely no truth to these claims," he said.
Cabinet spokesman and minister Rajitha Senaratne said Peiris had tried to meet President Sirisena on Wednesday, but that did not happen as the Cabinet meeting was underway.
Senaratne said a meeting was scheduled with the President yesterday.
However, Pieris did not turn up for the meeting yesterday, the report said citing government sources.