Sri Lankan chief justice impeachment illegal

- Supreme Court

COLOMBO, (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court said yesterday parliament does not have the legal authority to investigate accusations of misconduct against senior judges and an impeachment proceeding against the chief justice was against the law.

The government and Supreme Court have been at loggerheads since President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ruling party filed an impeachment motion against Shirani Bandaranayake, Sri Lanka’s first female head of the Supreme Court, on Nov. 6.

The government complained that she had been overstepping her authority but Bandaranayake’s supporters complained of political interference in the judiciary. The case has raised international concern about the independence of the judiciary.

A parliamentary impeachment committee last month found Bandaranayake guilty on counts of financial irregularities, conflict of interest and failure to declare her assets.

But the Supreme Court said investigations into any misbehaviour by senior judges including the chief justice should be conducted by a judicial body.

“Therefore, in our opinion, it is mandatory for parliament to provide by law the body competent to conduct the investigation,” the court said in a 27-page ruling, which was read out in a lower court.

Government Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwelle declined to comment on the ruling saying the speaker of parliament would decide on the latest move by the judiciary.

Parliament had scheduled to debate the impeachment on Bandaranayake next week, before a vote which the government, with a majority in the assembly, would be bound to win.

The Supreme Court’s ruling backs up a decision by an appeal court’s which last month blocked parliament from voting to impeach Bandaranayake, the country’s first woman chief justice.

The United States, the United Nations and the Commonwealth have raised concerns about the impeachment and called on Rajapaksa to ensure the independence of the judiciary.

The parliamentary panel which found Bandaranayake guilty was appointed by Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, the elder brother of the president.

The accusations against Bandaranayake arose after she ruled against a bill, submitted by the president’s younger brother, Basil Rajapaksa, proposing an 80-billion rupee ($614 million) development budget which she said had to be approved by nine provincial councils.

More in World News


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning:

Most Read This Week

  1. Ramesh Manbodh

    Man beaten with bat passes away

  2. Bibi Shareema (left) and her mother Bibi Shameela in
happier times

    Greenwich Park woman died 44 days after brutally stabbed by ex-partner

  3. Fast food lovers inside KFC yesterday

    KFC back in business

  4. Bharrat Jagdeo

    Meeting of Cabinet at GDF HQ pilloried by Jagdeo

  5. Ameer Abdool Subrati

    Man dies after bandits target overseas-based couple at Herstelling

  6. The building housing the home and grocery

    Bandits invade Alness businessman’s house, shots fired

  7. Alimudeen Gobin’s demolished house

    Violent storm lashes No. 19 Village

  8. Bharrat Jagdeo

    Crime has never been this bad – Jagdeo

  9. The ganja found in Prashad Nagar (Police photo)

    Police find 52 lbs of ganja in Prashad Nagar house

Recommended For You