Nov 01, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government today accused the country's judiciary of overstepping its role and disregarding the supremacy of the parliament after the legislature handed over an impeachment motion against the country's first female Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake.
Addressing the cabinet media briefing today, cabinet spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said there should be a harmonious relationship among the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary and the parliament is the supreme body representing the sovereignty of the people.
Recently this supremacy has been eroded with the judiciary overstepping its role and disregarding the Parliament supremacy, the Minister said referring to the incident when the Supreme Court bypassed the Speaker of the parliament in delivering its ruling over a controversial bill.
A parliamentary group representing all parties in the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance handed over a motion signed by 117 legislators to the Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa today to start proceedings to impeach the Chief Justice.
The impeachment motion made under the provisions given in Article 107.2 of the Constitution has been handed over to the Speaker Thursday by a parliamentary group led by Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi and comprising Deputy Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna, and parliamentarians Dr. (Mrs) Sudharshani Fernandopulle, Shantha Bandara, and Arundika Fernando.
Explaining the motion and the process of impeachment to follow, Minister Wanniarachchi said the Speaker, under the provisions in the Constitution, if there is a prima facie case against the Chief Justice as per the motion submitted, should appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee to enquire the motion or should hold a Parliamentary debate on the motion.
In both instances the Chief Justice could be summoned to answer the charges against her, the Minister noted.
Minister Wanniarachchi said the charges in the motion include irregularities done by Dr. Bandaranayke while holding the post of Chief Justice and certain matters relating to personal issues.
The Chief Justice came under scrutiny after the Speaker on October 9 warned the country's apex court for disregarding his authority in the parliament when the court presented its ruling on the controversial Divineguma bill.
Speaking to the Assembly the Speaker expressed concern over the Supreme Court's action to deliver their decision on the Bill to the Secretary General of Parliament while the Constitution declares that it has to be delivered to the Speaker.
The Speaker has sought the guidance of the party leaders on the matter and the party leaders have decided that the Parliamentary supremacy and the authority of the Speaker as envisaged in the Constitution should be recognized and given effect to by all other arms of authority.
Minister of Mass Media and Information Keheliya Rambukwella in response to media questions said according to the Constitution a minimum number of 75 Members of Parliament representing one-third of the total number of members of the 225-seat parliament is required to submit an impeachment motion and the motion submitted this morning had been signed by 117 members.
The Minister has noted that this is not the first instance that an impeachment motion has been brought against a Chief Justice and there had been two previous occasions under the presidencies of J.R. Jayawardena and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.