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Impeachment: UNP calls for fresh inquiry based on Latimer House Declaration of the Commonwealth

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Non inclusion of the dissenting view of the opposition members makes the PSC report invalid

”In the circumstances the Working Committee of the UNP decided to request President Rajapaksa to make arrangements to enact the Private Members Bill titled “Removal of Superior Court Judges (Special Provisions)” presented to Parliament by Wijedasa Rajapaksa, MP, as an urgent Bill, and thereafter to appoint an independent committee consisting of three Commonwealth Judges as provided in Section 3 of the proposed Bill. The provisions contained in the Bill ensure a fair hearing to the Judges when resolutions are moved to remove them from the office they hold. The Working Committee considers that the enactment of this Bill will be the most appropriate step to be taken to resolve the conflict amongst the executive, legislature and judiciary.”


General secretary of UNP,  Tissa Attanayake issued a statement in response to the public statement made by the president yesterday that he was prepared to appoint an independent body to study the PSC report:

Speaking at the Institute of Chartered Accountants on December 11th, 2012, President Rajapaksa announced that an independent committee will study the Select Committee Report regarding the impeachment against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

When the Select Committee met on 6 December 2012, the four members representing the Opposition requested the Select Committee to adhere to certain cardinal principles of the inquiry into the impeachment proceedings. The Chairman and the other six members representing the Government parties refused to consider the request, compelling the four members who represented the Opposition in the Select Committee to walkout having stated their reasons inter alia

i.It is the duty of the Select Committee to maintain the highest standard of conduct and accordingly afford the Chief Justice the courtesies and privileges to her necessary to uphold the dignity of the office of the Chief Justice while attending the proceedings before the Committee;

ii.Lay down the procedure that the Committee intends to follow at the inquiry;

iii.Give adequate time both to the members of the Committee and the Chief Justice and her lawyers to study and review the documents that are tabled before the Committee;

iv.Invite the Chief Justice to continue her participation in these proceedings.

As the majority of the Committee

a.Refused to follow the principles of natural justice by not granting a fair trial to the Chief Justice

b.Refused to adopt a fair procedure in the conduct of inquiry

c.Treated the Chief Justice in an insulting and in a degrading manner

d.Refused to give a further opportunity for the Chief Justice to defend herself with an assurance that she will be given a fair hearing  the four members of the Opposition walked out from the said proceedings.

On 8 December 2012, the resignation of the members of the Opposition from the Select Committee was announced by John Amaratunga, MP after 10 am during the proceedings of the House. Thereafter the letters of resignation were handed over to the Speaker in accordance with the procedure. The Report of the Select Committee was handed over to the Speaker prior to 9 am. At that time, these members were legally members of the Select Committee. They withdrew from the Committee when their demands were not met but had not handed over any letter of resignation to the Speaker. The Chairman of the Select Committee had the duty to inform these members that the report had been prepared and call for their observations. According to the Parliamentary practice the members have the opportunity to include their dissenting views in the proceedings attached to the report as well as to have their dissent noted in the report. The failure to permit these 4 members in finalizing the report is a fatal flaw, which nullifies this Select Committee proceedings and report.

The Leader of the Opposition addressing the International Human Rights Day meeting on Monday 10 December 2012, called upon the Government to adhere to the Commonwealth principles as adopted in the Latimer House Declaration which requires a panel of Judges to be appointed to conduct an independent and impartial inquiry.

In the circumstances the Working Committee of the UNP decided to request President Rajapaksa to make arrangements to enact the Private Members Bill titled “Removal of Superior Court Judges (Special Provisions)” presented to Parliament by Wijedasa Rajapaksa, MP, as an urgent Bill, and thereafter to appoint an independent committee consisting of three Commonwealth Judges as provided in Section 3 of the proposed Bill. The provisions contained in the Bill ensure a fair hearing to the Judges when resolutions are moved to remove them from the office they hold. The Working Committee considers that the enactment of this Bill will be the most appropriate step to be taken to resolve the conflict amongst the executive, legislature and judiciary.

12 December 2012

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