Jan 03, Colombo: A Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) has no legal power or authority to find a judge guilty since the Standing Order under which the committee is appointed is not law, a Sri Lankan court hearing a petition filed by the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake against the PSC that investigated the impeachment decided today
Sri Lanka's Court of Appeal reading the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution said a parliamentary select committee appointed in terms of Standing Order 78A derives its power and authority entirely from the Standing Order which is not law.
Based on the constitutional interpretation, action can only be taken against a judge based on a law passed by the Parliament and the PSC has no legal right to take action against the Chief Justice, the Appellate Court ruled.
The Court of Appeal stated that the power to make a valid finding after investigation can be conferred on a court tribunal or any other body only by law and law alone.
A three- judge bench led by Justice Sri Skandarajah took up the petition filed by the Chief Justice challenging the PSC today.
The Chief Justice in her petition had requested the Appellate Court to issue an interim injunction order barring the recommendations set forth by the PSC's report being enacted.
The petition cited 13 respondents including the Speaker, both government and opposition members of the 11-member PSC and the General Secretary of Parliament. Accordingly, the court issued notice on December 21 for the respondents to appear in the court today.
However, the 7 government members and two United National Party (UNP) members of the PSC decided not to appear and they were not present at Court today.
Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP Vijitha Herath and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M. A. Sumanthiran on behalf of the TNA leader R. Sampanthan who represented TNA in the PSC, appeared in the court.
However, local media reported that UNP MPs Karu Jayasuriya, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Ajith P. Perera and Palitha Range Bandara were present at the court complex.
The petition filed by the country's top judge said that she was not given sufficient time to prepare for her defence and was not given an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses.
The PSC found Dr. Bandaranayake guilty of the 1st, 4th and 5th charges in the impeachment motion while dismissing 2nd and 3rd charges for insufficient proof. All other charges in the motion have been disregarded.
Attorney at Law Saliya Peiris represented the Chief Justice at the hearing.
The bench postponed the hearing to January 15th.