|MP Mr. John Amaratunga of UNP|
The members of the UNP in the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) examining the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake said they will be impartial in the hearing to safeguard the honor and the independence of thejudiciary. UNP MP Mr. John Amaratunga said the opposition members are neither on the government side nor on the side of the Chief Justice but rather engaged in the hearing in an impartial manner that safeguards the honor and the independence of the judiciary. addressing the media tyesterday (05) in the parliamentary complex today.
“This Committee was appointed under Standing Orders 78 A to inquire into 14 charges contained in the Resolution signed by117 members of Parliament against Hon (Dr.) Shirani Bandaranayke, the Chief Justice.
“The Chief Justice has replied in two letters dated 20 November 2012, sent through her lawyers. In addition, written submissions have been made in respect of the charges.
“The replies and written submissions can be summarized as follows: (1) Denial of the jurisdiction of the Select Committee, (2) Questioning the right of the Select Committee to exercise judicial powers, (3) Denial of the charges and (4) Calling for documents.
“The Select Committee has jurisdiction to go into this matter. The question that arises is in regard to the next step.
“The Committee has to determine the procedure as to how the charges are to be proved, before it can proceed any further. In Neville Samarakoon’s case there was only one charge and the facts were admitted. Only the issue of law remained to be determined.
“In Neville Samarakoon’s Case, the first Select Committee commenced its sittings on 17 April 1984 and held its meetings on 3rd and 29th May, 15th June and 6th and 20th July, 1984 over approximately 3 months.
“In the case of the Second Select Committee, the Resolution was placed on the Order Paper on 5 September, 1984. The Committee commenced its deliberations on 11 September 1984 and held fourteen meetings on the 8th, 11th, 25th and 28th September, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 17th October and 2nd, 20th, and 27th November 1984, approximately another3 months.
“From the beginning of the term of the First Committee to the end of the Second Committee, the process took more than 6 months. As was discussed, the Committee must determine how to proceed. The Chief Justice or her lawyers must be provided an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and the documents collected.
“It is only then the Select Committee has to determine whether the Chief Justice is required to disprove the charges. The question arises, what is the standard of proof required? The Select Committee in Neville Samarakoon’s case held the standard of proof required is very high.
“In addition, the Committee must adhere to the definition of ‘misbehaviour’ as specified in Neville Samarakoon’s Second Select Committee Report. “The late Speaker Hon. Anura Bandaranaike in his landmark ruling noted: “Members of Parliament may give their minds to the need to introduce fresh legislation or amend the existing Standing Orders regarding Motions of Impeachment against judges of the Superior Courts. “These are some of the matters that the Committee has to address its mind to”.