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* Sri Lanka Supreme Court to hear petition challenging constitutionality of impeachment motion against Chief Justice
Mon, Dec 3, 2012, 08:11 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 03, Colombo: The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka today granted leave to proceed for a fundamental rights petition filed by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka on the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake.

A panel of judges of the Supreme Court chaired by justice Nimal Gamini Amaratunga considered the petition challenging the constitutionality of the procedure.

The Bar Association argued that it had a right to file the petition since it aimed at safeguarding the independence of the judiciary and since the lawyers could not engage in their profession in an environment lacking the independence of the judiciary.

The impeachment motion against Chief Justice presented to parliament was signed by 117 members of the 225-member legislature.

Sri Lanka's first female Chief Justice is charged with 14 counts of improper conduct or conduct unbecoming of a person holding the office of the Chief Justice, involving in matters that could amount to causes of action or controversy, and influencing the process of delivery of justice.

The petition cites that the 11-member parliamentary select committee appointed to probe the charges against the Chief Justice must wait for the Supreme Court's interpretation of the constitutionality of parliament's standing order 78A which governs the impeachment procedure.

The BASL argued that standing order 78A is an infringement of fundamental right to equality and equal protection before the law.

The Speaker of the parliament, the eleven representatives of the parliamentary select committee (PSC) and the Attorney General are the respondents of the petition.

The Supreme Court decided to take up the petition for hearing on January 21, 2013.

The respondents were asked to file objections before that date and the petitioners were asked to submit their objections within two weeks following it.

However, Sri Lanka Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa last week nullified notices issued by the Supreme Court to him and to the members of the PSC saying that the notices have no effect and are not recognized in any manner.

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