Lawyers across Sri Lanka went on strike on Wednesday protesting the impeachment motion against the island nation’s first woman Chief Justice, bringing the judiciary to halt.

The protesters were seen clashing with pro-government protesters who called for the resignation of Ms Bandaranayake staging counter demonstrations in support of the impeachment

“We have come out today to protest in the branch association across the country on the single theme, ‘let’s protect the independence of the judiciary’”, Wijayadasa Rajapaksha, the head Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said.

Mr Rajapaksha said the BASL committee had resolved to condemn the procedure adopted and the findings of the parliamentary select committee on the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

The parliamentary panel last week announced that Ms Bandaranayake has been found guilty of three of the 14 charges slapped against her by the government.

The protesting lawyers said that some of the court’s functioning was crippled in many provincial areas throughout today and is likely to remain so tomorrow.

Bandaranayake, 54 awaits removal from the position early January after parliament holds a vote on the recommendations of the parliamentary select committee submitted last week.

The report was released after Ms Bandaranayake and her lawyers walked out of the proceedings calling it unfair.

Following concerns raised internationally, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, on Tuesday, said he would appoint an independent panel to seek its views on the select committee report prior to acting on them.

However, the lawyers rejected the President’s offer.

“The President’s statement that he would appoint an independent panel to review the report is an admission by the President that it was an unlawful process and that the report is flawed. Therefore the said Report must be withdrawn immediately. Any future inquiry must take place only after a fair procedure and tribunal are lawfully introduced. Until then the agitation of the Bar will continue”, a lawyer’s union statement said.

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