The panel rejected Supreme Court’s request to delay the hearing

Notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s request to delay the hearing, a Sri Lankan parliamentary panel on Friday began impeachment motion proceedings against the country’s first woman chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake, who is facing 14 charges of personal and professional misconduct.

The 11-member Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) put off the further proceedings after 54-year-old Bandaranayake appeared before it, officials said.

Ms Bandaranayake and her team of lawyers presented before the PSC which comprises 11 government MPs and four opposition MPs.

The PSC refused to accede to a request from the Supreme Court to delay the hearing until it made a key constitutional interpretation on the validity of the impeachment against Ms Bandaranayake, officials said.

Ms Bandaranayake became the island’s first ever woman Supreme Court judge in 1996 before being appointed chief justice in 2011.

She is facing 14 charges of personal and financial misconduct.

The opposition has accused the government of pursuing the top judge in a brazen act of political witch hunt.

The impeachment was the culmination of a month long dispute between the judiciary and the executive arm of the government.

The judiciary cited political interference violating its independence as the reason for friction.

The government’s move was criticised by the US, Commonwealth and international rights watch groups as an action undermining the independence of judiciary.

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