Sri Lanka’s parliament has voted to oust chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake in on sharply partisan lines with courts and the opposition parties saying the move was illegal.
The parliament voted 155 for 49 against with 20 abstentious, reporters said.
The vote was delayed at the last minute when the main opposition objected saying a resolution to call for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to make a speech formally was not before house.
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, a brother President Rajapaksa ruled after a ten minute recess that the vote could be taken.
Crackers went off in the environs of the parliament.
Earlier in the day pro-government backers of the move to oust the chief bussed to the capital from various locations mainly in busses of a state-run transport utility were demonstrating on the approach road to the parliament.
On Thursday lawyers and protestors who demonstrated near the capital main courts complex complained of being attacked by goons as riot police looked on.
Courts have already ruled that a parliamentary committee that found the chief justice guilty was unconstitutional and its findings were quashed.
Sri Lanka’s lawyers struck work for two days as parliament debated the issue.
Rights groups, lawyers, the clergy and business chambers have asked the administration not to go ahead with the impeachment and to respect the law and the court decision.
Ruling party members however went ahead saying the court ruling amounted to a re-writing of the constitution and not just an interpretation of it.
Chief Justice Bandaranayake has denied the charges against her and asked for an independent tribunal where due process and rules of natural justice prevail.
On Friday a group of lawyers called upon the Supreme Court not to accept any new appointee saying it amounted to disregarding their own ruling.