The motion for the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake has caused the most important constitutional crisis experienced in Sri Lanka in the recent decades.
This is the third occasion in which such impeachments have been brought since the 1978 Constitution. In fact, prior to the 1978 Constitution there was no such attempted impeachments on superior court judges by any government.
This post 1978 experience relating to the impeachment of chief justices demonstrates a central issue inherent in the 1978 Constitution. It does not tolerate the independence of the judiciary. The support of the Supreme Court for the executive president is a fundamental requirement for the working of this constitution. It is exactly this issue that has led to the present conflict which has attracted the attention of the entire nation as well as the international community.
The government has made no attempt to justify the impeachment on any legitimate grounds. If it believed in legitimacy it could have appointed a reputed panel of jurists from Sri Lanka or abroad as the inquiring body into the allegations. This was how a similar inquiry into the (then) Lord President of the Supreme Court of Malayasia, Tun Salleh Abas during the time of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was conducted. In that instance a six member international tribunal was appointed which included a judge from Sri Lanka, The Hon. Mr. Justice K. A. P. Ranasinghe, CJ.
When amendments to the 1978 Constitution was suggested in the year 2000 there were proposed provisions for similar international tribunals from Commonwealth countries for any impeachment relating to the Chief Justice and other provisions for inquiries into other judges by judicial panels.
The core issue involved in the present impeachment controversy relates to the survival of the judiciary in Sri Lanka as a separate branch of governance. The predictions of some are that the judiciary will be brought under the Presidential Secretariat in the way that the Attorney General’s Department and the Legal Draft Man’s Department are being directly controlled by the Presidential Secretariat.
The matters relating to the present impeachment therefore will be of interest not only for the present moment but also for the future.
In order to assist those who wish to understand the present controversy and also those who wish to contribute their own ideas in a well-informed manner we have taken this initiative to collect important documents and articles relating to this controversy and make them available to the readers.
Our effort is totally non-commercial and done purely with the idea of public interest. We hope the readers will benefit from this publication.
Compiled in December, 2012 by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), 255 pages, Language: English,
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