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Impeachment: Left says no, UNP for Intl Observers, GL slams west

Not party to CJ’s impeachment – LSSP
GL slams US, Germany for denouncing plan for CJ’s impeachment
Impeachment against CJ: UNP wants int’l observers .

Not party to CJ’s impeachment – LSSP

The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) has decided not to be a part of the impeachment attempt against Chief Justice, Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, which was handed over to the Speaker recently.

The decision was taken when the Political Committee of the LSSP held an urgent meeting recently and the Speaker was informed in writing of the decision, a committee member of the party told Ceylon Today. He said the Kegalle District member of the party, Y.G. Padmasiri, who signed with no approval of the party was asked to withdraw the signature.

When Padmasiri was queried on this, he said the Party Secretary must be consulted. The Leader of the Party, Prof. Tissa Vitarana said he cannot comment on the impeachment.

Meanwhile, controversies have occurred within the Communist Party of Sri Lanka with party seniors questioning Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera about signing the petition, without having the consent of the political committee or the working committee of the party.
By Udeni Saman Kumara

GL slams US, Germany for denouncing plan for CJ’s impeachment

NEW DELHI, November 4: External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris has lambasted the United States, Germany and several organisations for criticizing his government’s plans to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake.

Responding to a question during an interview with this correspondent here on Saturday, Prof. Peiris said: “Several countries and organisations have denounced the Chief Justice’s proposed impeachment without knowing much about the issue.

“This is to be regretted. It looks as though any stick were good enough to beat Sri Lanka with irrespective of merit. It is astonishing that they have chosen to denounce these procedures without knowing the specific charges against the country’s top judge.

“Clearly, this is an expression of naked prejudice against Sri Lanka. This is not the spirit in which we would expect the world to treat us,” the minister declared.

Peiris explained that impeachment of the Supreme Court Chief Justice is a constitutionally mandated procedure. Standing order 78A of Article 107 (2) details the provisions relating to procedures to be adopted for impeachment by Parliament.

Impeachment has to do with the accountability of judges. Politicians submit themselves to be judged by the people once every five years. But there is no such thing for judges till they retire at the age of 65. So, it is only right and proper to have some procedure to ensure the accountability of judges. A judge can be removed only on two grounds: misconduct and incapacity, Peiris pointed out.

Under the law, a judge who is to be impeached has to be notified and given an opportunity to respond either in person or through a representative.

The Speaker of Parliament is required to appoint a Select Committee of not less than seven members. The Select Committee is required to submit its report in one month. If it needs another month, it has to go to Parliament to get the extension.

The Speaker can set time for a debate on the motion of impeachment in Parliament one month after the Select Committee submits its report to him. Parliament can pass the motion by a simple majority. The Speaker then communicates the outcome to the President, who then acts on it.

Dr Bandaranayake, aged 55, is the island’s 43rd Chief Justice. She became the country’s first female Chief Justice on May 18, 2011.

She obtained her Bachelor of Laws degree from the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo in 1980, and her PhD from the University of London in 1986. After admission to the bar, she worked as an Attorney at Law at the Supreme Court, and as a lecturer at the University of Colombo. She was later appointed Dean of the Faculty of Law, and also served on the Judicial Service Commission of Sri Lanka.

Dr Bandaranayake was first appointed to the Supreme Court in 1996, the country’s first female Supreme Court Judge. Through the next 14 years, she served as the acting Chief Justice during a number of occasions. Following the mandatory retirement of Justice Asoka de Silva in May 2011, Dr. Bandaranayake was sworn in as Chief Justice of Sri Lanka before President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Ordinarily, she will retire in April 2023 at the age of 65.

Incidentally, she was never a Judge at any level of the court system in Sri Lanka. She had gone into academia and had never practiced as a lawyer either until she was controversially appointed to the Supreme Court by then President Chandrika Kumaratunga in October 1996. There were protests from lawyers and judges.

After she criticised the transfer of power from provinces to the Ministry of Development led by the President’s brother Basil Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan government announced plans for her impeachment. Almost 120 members of Parliament, from the governing coalition, signed the petition for her impeachment but, curiously, without giving details of her alleged misdemeanour.

Our Special Correspondent

Impeachment against CJ: UNP wants int’l observers .

The main opposition UNP stressed today that international and local legal experts should be allowed to observers the proceedings of the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice, also calling for a live telecast of the hearing.

UNP Senior Vice President and MP Lakshman Kiriella told journalists that observers from the International Bar Association, International Commission of Jurists and representatives of BASL and local Judges Association should be allowed to observe the proceedings in order to ensure transparency.

He said the government should allow independent observers both from here and abroad and also a live telecast of the proceedings as it was essential to determine the charges against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake are genuine or fabricated ones. Besides he said these are practices followed by many countries today.

He also said the UNP would have to participate in the select committee proceedings as it has been made compulsory that opposition members participate in it by the Constitution. Mr. Kiriella further stressed that the UNP should participate so that the party would be able to determine the charges against the Chief Justice. “We have decided to participate in the select committee proceedings in order to ensure justice to Chief justice,” he said. (Yohan Perera)


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