Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice appeared before a Parliamentary committee for a second time on Tuesday to answer impeachment charges in a case that has drawn protests from both supporters and opponents.
Thousands of government-supporters took to the streets calling for Shirani Bandaranayake’s resignation, while Buddhist monks, Catholic priests, opposition lawmakers, judges, lawyers and rights activists rallied in support of her.
The government has accused Ms. Bandaranayake of misusing power and having unexplained wealth. She denies any wrongdoing. Opposition parties and independent analysts say the impeachment attempt is aimed at stifling judicial independence and concentrating power with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The impeachment motion was submitted a month ago calling for a Parliament Select Committee to investigate 14 charges and remove Ms. Bandaranayake.
If the committee determines that the complaint has merit, an impeachment motion will be voted on and forwarded to Mr. Rajapaksa for further action. With his ruling coalition controlling more than two-thirds of Parliament’s seats, such a motion is expected to be carried easily.
The U.N., the U.S. and rights groups have expressed concerns about the motion, which follows months of conflict between Parliament and the judiciary.
Ms. Bandaranayake came under strong government criticism after she ruled that legislation giving more power to Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, a brother of the President, violated the constitution.