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* Lawyers of Sri Lanka Chief Justice say impeachment proceedings fundamentally flawed
Thu, Dec 13, 2012, 07:35 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 13, Colombo: Lawyers of Sri Lanka's Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake say the proceedings before the government members of the parliamentary select committee (PSC) are fundamentally flawed.

The proceedings were unfair, conducted without a proper procedure being adopted, without giving the Chief Justice an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and without observing the rules of natural justice or the elementary standards of fairness, they said.

The seven government members of 11-member PSC decided that the Chief Justice is guilty of three out of the five charges examined after the defendant and the four opposition members walked out of the committee saying the proceeding was unfair.

Issuing a statement, the lawyers have said that the Chief Justice is yet to be issued a copy of the evidence and the findings of the government members of the PSC.

According to the lawyers, as soon as she is furnished with the same the Chief Justice will respond to the report of the Government Members and to the ex-parte evidence, which was given in her absence.

Following is the full text of the statement:

The media has quoted the Government Members of the Parliamentary Select Committee as having stated that they have found the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake guilty of the 1st, 4th and 5th allegations in the impeachment motion while exonerating her of the 2nd and 3rd allegations.

The Chief Justice is yet to be issued a copy of the evidence and the findings of the Government Members of the Select Committee. It is understood that the Report was submitted just hours after the Government Members of the Select Committee concluded hearing witnesses.

As soon as she is furnished with the same the Chief Justice will respond to the report of the Government Members and to the ex-parte evidence, which was given in her absence, without any notice being given to her and which was given devoid of cross-examination. The Chief Justice re-iterates that if the said witnesses were cross-examined by her counsel, she would have been able to demonstrate the untruthfulness of the evidence of the key witnesses hurriedly summoned.

The Chief Justice's position is that the findings of the Government Parliamentarians in the Select Committee do not constitute a report of the Select Committee since the Opposition Members on the Select Committee had withdrawn from the proceedings and they were not given an opportunity to submit their observations.

The proceedings before the Government Members of the Select Committee are fundamentally flawed since the proceedings were unfair, conducted without a proper procedure being adopted, conducted without giving the Chief Justice an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and without observing the rules of natural justice or the elementary standards of fairness. In fact after the Chief Justice was informed that only documentary evidence will be used at the inquiry, after the Chief Justice walked out of the Select Committee, the very next day sixteen witnesses were called and their evidence led without any notice to the Chief Justice and without making them available for cross-examination.

Yesterday's observations made by Sri Lanka's most eminent Judge and Jurist Dr. C.G. Weeramanthry, confirm the Chief Justice's contention that she never received a fair or impartial hearing from the Government Members of the Select Committee.

It is noteworthy that even when evidence was led ex parte (that is, in the absence of the Chief Justice and her lawyers, in the absence of cross examination and in the absence of evidence being put forward by the Chief Justice) yet there was no evidence to justify allegations 2 and 3 which were made without supporting evidence and the question arises as to the basis in which 117 Members of the Parliament signed the impeachment motion putting forward the said charges.

The Government Members of the Parliamentary Select Committee have also stated that they will not even look in to the charges bearing numbers 6 to 14, although the Select Committee was mandated by the Speaker to look in to all charges including the said charges numbered 6 to 14.

The Chief Justice has at all times maintained that she is innocent of all charges, which are baseless and framed purely with malicious intent. She has always stated that there is no evidence whatsoever in support of the charges framed against her. Her stance is now vindicated. It is hoped that suitable action would be taken against the aforesaid parties for framing charges against a sitting Chief Justice which could not even be maintained at an ex parte hearing.

She will as soon as the report of the Government Members of the Select Committee is made available respond to the findings, demonstrate that the findings are incorrect and she is innocent of the charges.



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