In a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Speaker and party leaders, Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) states that it is the duty and national responsibility of all concerned to evolve a flawless mechanism with which justice is meted out in investigating into the current impeachment motion against the Chief Justice.
Stating that in this case we could learn from other countries which follow more acceptable and judicious mechanism in impeaching judges of higher Courts, TISL quotes Singapore as an example that can be followed. TISL points out that the Constitution of Singapore provides for a tribunal of retired and sitting judges to hear impeachment cases against the judges of higher Courts
The letter states:
“Transparency Interna-tional Sri Lanka, the national chapter of the global movement against corruption, has drawn its attention to the current impasse between the executive and the judiciary of Sri Lanka. We feel that this is a very unhealthy development and poses a serious threat to democracy and good governance of the country. Moreover, Since Sri Lanka has become a party to several UN Conventions which warrant the signatories to such conventions respect human rights and principles of good governance, this internal issue would attract the attention of the international community if the government would not handle it judiciously.
We are aware that the Constitution has provided for impeachment of judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal and the current impeachment motion has been submitted following those constitutional provisions. We are also aware that the procedures to be followed to proceed with the motion are laid down in the parliamentary standing orders and the Hon. Speaker has, up to now, acted according to such standing orders.
According to the said standing orders, the impeachment is to be investigated/heard by a Select Committee appointed by the Hon. Speaker. As we all are aware, the Select Committee comprises Members of Parliament and the majority of the committee comes from the ruling party members who are complainants of the impeachment. In other words, the complainants or the petitioners are the judges as per existing standing orders in this regard.
This is a serious flaw in the process which could be construed as bias, injudicious and stands against the natural justice although the Select Committee’s findings would be just and impartial. Nonetheless, the apparent weaknesses of the existing process and the outcome of the impeachment of that process will definitely be interpreted from different perspectives and such interpretations would add and aggravate the issues that Sri Lanka is facing in the international arena at the moment. Therefore, we consider, it is the duty and national responsibility of all concerned to evolve a flawless mechanism with which justice is meted out and justice appears to be meted out in the case of impeachment.
In this case we could learn from other countries which follow more acceptable and judicious mechanism in impeaching judges of higher Courts.
For example, the Constitution of Singapore provides for a tribunal of retired and sitting judges to hear impeachment cases against the judges of higher Courts (Article 98 of the Singapore Constitution). We firmly believe that our Parliament could evolve such a mechanism within the existing constitutional provisions acting under Article 107 of our Constitution by enacting new laws or amending standing orders for that purpose.
Transparency Intern-ational Sri Lanka strongly urges your Excellency, Hon. Speaker and all party leaders to act with conscience with a view to meeting justice to the Chief Justice, Ms Shirani Bandaranayake and prove to the entire world who are watching us that ‘justice is done’ in this impeachment case.”