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Impeachment: Game Changer


Sri Lanka ‘Black Friday Impeachment’ will reduce citizens’ liberties: legislator
Sri Lanka’s ‘Black Friday Impeachment’ of the chief justice will mark a new chapter in illiberal democracy where parliamentary majorities are abused to rob liberties of citizens, a legislator has warned.
 “The Black Friday impeachment is another shameful day in the history of our country,” opposition legislator Harsha de Silva said in a statement.

 “The absolute majority in parliament obtained through dubious means has been used once again by this government to deny justice to the chief justice of our country and undermine the independence of the judiciary.

“It is not a black day just for the judiciary. It is a black day for every single citizen of this country.

“In undermining the judiciary and the rule of law, the freedom and liberties that citizens of this country are born with, have been robbed through the tyranny of the parliamentary majority.”

“Consequences of the Black Friday Impeachment will certainly be significant and game changing.”

De Silva was one of the most vocal critics of a expropriation legislation enacted last year to violate property rights of both citizens and foreign investors to existing constitutional guarantees.

The flawed legislation trespassed on the separation of powers between the executive, the judiciary and the legislature by targeting a specific pre-determined asset in so-called ad hominem fashion that is not found in just law.

“A year and a half ago when the administration brought an ad hominem bill to expropriate private property I said that democracy denoted by absolute majority rule was very dangerous and could destroy the liberties of citizens in the absence of safeguards to ensure justice, freedom and property rights,” de Silva said.

“It was unfortunate that the judiciary, at the time, did not see the necessity to block its passage without giving a hearing to those individuals who were going to be victims of that unconstitutional action. The government applauded that decision.

“However, last month when the judiciary, in its accumulated wisdom, saw it appropriate to rule the Divineguma bill unconstitutional, the government was not willing to accept that verdict. The judiciary had suddenly checked the absolute power of the government.

De Silva said the administration had used a report from a parliamentary committee that was quashed by courts and was thus a “nullity” to impeach the chief justice.

“Using among others, a speech I had made six months ago seeking an investigation on her husband relating to a stock market transaction, the government decided to impeach the chief justice and worked backwards to meet its objective come hell or high water,” De Silva said.

“The assumption is that the judiciary would now fall in line with the wishes of the government due to fear of reprisal,”

“While the Black Friday Impeachment is another step towards achieving the objectives of this autocratic government by taking away the freedom and liberties of citizens I have the confidence that the judiciary would have the strength to stand up against the impending juggernaut.

“As a member of parliament I am of the firm belief that the legislature has certain powers that it can exercise without the interference of any other institution.

However, I am also of the firm belief that the no ruling party must ever use the majority it enjoys in the legislature to undermine the freedom and liberties that citizens of this country are born with.

“Consequences of the Black Friday Impeachment will certainly be significant and game changing.”

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