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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Reconsider impeachment: BASL

Rival factions of lawyers seen cheering and booing at yesterday’s special general meeting of the BASL at Hulftsdorp. Pic by Susantha Liyanawatte

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka at a special general meeting yesterday passed a resolution calling on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa to reconsider the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
Pandemonium reigned at the meeting attended by more than 1,000 lawyers from various parts of the country as views were exchanged for and against the eight-point resolution. The meeting was presided over by BASL President Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

Mr. Rajapakshe said the special general meeting was called for the first time in 24 years, the last being in 1988 over the abduction and killing of lawyer Wijedasa Liyanaarachchi.

“The meeting was called due to the impending threat to the judiciary and the impeachment of the Chief Justice,” he said.

As Mr. Rajapakshe and officials came to the head table, there was a rumpus with the lawyers split into two factions with one supporting the resolution and other against.
Some lawyers were seen hooting, with some standing on chairs and grabbing files from the head table.
Mr. Rajapakshe after a few desperate measures to control the lawyers decided to go for a vote and requested them to move into two sides. But this did not work out because of the large number present.

Finally, senior lawyer Razik Zarook read out the eight-point resolution and it was passed amidst a mixture of cheering and booing.

Even after the resolution was passed, a tense situation arose outside the Bar Association auditorium.
The full text of the resolution is as follows:

To express its grave concern about the impeachment and the independence of the Judiciary,
To urge his Excellency the President of the Republic and the Hon. Speaker of the Parliament to reconsider the said ‘impeachment’.

To urge the Hon. Speaker to have a meeting with him for the Members of the Executive Committee and the former Presidents of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka on the above subject,In the event the Legislature decides to proceed with the said impeachment;

To urge the Hon. Speaker and the Hon. Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed for the inquiry to look into the charges in the impeachment to adopt a transparent and accountable procedure with regard to the proceedings before it and announce it before the proceedings are commenced,
To urge the Hon. Speaker and the Hon. Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee to recognise our legitimate right to represent on behalf of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka in the proposed proceedings before the Select Committee.

To urge the Hon. Speaker and the Hon. Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee to ensure that the judicial pronouncements made by the Hon. Chief Justice should not influence adversely in the proceedings before the Select Committee and its findings.

To urge the Hon. Speaker and the Hon. Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee to permit a few observers on the proceedings before the Parliament Select Committee preferably retired Chief Justices and Justices of the Supreme Court who are not holding any public office.

To urge the legislature to formulate an alternate acceptable constitutional mechanism for the removal of a Judge of the Superior Courts that will not undermine the authority, the dignity and the independence of the Judiciary.

The SundayTimes


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