The Supreme Court yesterday (November 22) decided to inform the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to inquire into the allegations made in the impeachment motion filed by a number of Members of Parliament against the Chief Justice. The court is inquiring into a reference made by the Court of Appeal acting in terms of Article 125 of the Constitution referring to the following question relating to the interpretation of the Constitution for the determination of the Supreme Court:
“Is it mandatory under Article 107(3) of the Constitution for the Parliament to provide for the Parliament to provide for matters relating to the forum before which the allegations are to be proved, the mode of proof, the burden of proof, the standard of proof etc., of any alleged misbehaviour or incapacity in addition to the matters relating to the investigation of the alleged misbehaviour or incapacity?”
The court stated:
…..this Court whilst reiterating that there has to be mutual respect and understanding founded upon the rule of law between Parliament and the Judiciary for the smooth functioning of both the institutions, wishes to recommend to the members of the Select Committee of Parliament that it is prudent to defer the inquiry to be held against the Hon. the Chief Justice until this Court makes its determination on the question of law referred to by the Court of Appeal. The desirability and paramount importance of acceding to the suggestions made by this Court would be based on mutual respect and trust and as something essential for the safe guarding of the rule of law and the interest of all persons concerned and ensuring that justice is not only done but is manifestly and undoubtedly seen to be done.
The Supreme Court also directed the Court of Appeal to inform the respondents that is, the 11 members of the PSC, to file written submissions in terms of the Rule 64 (1)(b) of the Supreme Court rules.
The Registrar of the Supreme Court was directed to send copies of the written submissions lodged under the aforesaid rule to the Hon. Attorney General and the written submission of the Hon. The Attorney General could be filed in terms of the aforesaid rules.
The Supreme Court further ordered the Registrar of the court to serve certified copies of the order of the court to all respondent members of the PSC together with the certified copies of petitions and affidavits filed in the Court of Appeal and a copy of the order of reference made by the Court of Appeal.
The Asian Human Rights Commission welcomes the orders made by the Supreme Court and hopes that the honourable members of the PSC will honour the request. The upholding of the rule of law will be enhanced by the PSC cooperating with the Supreme Court on this important issue.
Commenting on this order Basil Fernando, the Director, Policy and Programme Development, of the AHRC said that order of the Supreme Court may be a small step for the court but it is a gigantic step in the pursuit of the rule of law, democracy and the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka.
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984