The International Council of Jurists has expressed solidarity with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the recent impeachment of former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake by the Sri Lankan Government.
In a letter sent to the Sri Lankan President, ICJ president Adish Aggarwala said: “In this issue, the questions are whether the Constitutional requirements of impeachment have been followed by Sri Lankan Government and whether the Sri Lankan Constitutional requirements of impeachment are appropriate when comparing with other important countries.”
The letter said: “The Constitution of Sri Lanka makes provisions for Independence of Judiciary in Article 107. Article 107(2) provides that, ‘Every such Judge shall hold office during good behaviour, and shall not be removed except by an order of the President made after an address of Parliament, supported by a majority of the total number of Members of Parliament [including those not present], has been presented to the President for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity: provided that no resolution for the presentation of such an address shall be entertained by the Speaker or placed on the Order Paper of Parliament, unless notice of such resolution is signed by not less than one-third of the total number of Members of Parliament and sets out full particulars of the alleged misbehaviour or incapacity.’ In the case of Chief Justice Bandaranayake, she faced an 11-member parliamentary committee in November 2012, which investigated 14 charges of financial and official misconducts against her.
She was found guilty of professional misconduct the following month. Charges against the Chief Justice include improper conduct, amassing wealth and property, and non-declaration of assets.
As the constitution puts it, ‘misconduct’ is grounds for impeachment. The requirement under the Sri Lankan Constitution has been fulfilled and supplemented by a report of the Parliamentary Committee. Thus it is clear that the constitutional process of impeachment has been followed in Sri Lanka.”
Mr. Aggarwala said: “We take this opportunity to assure that the Sri Lankan Government has not committed wrong in removing Chief Justice Bandaranayake as the removal proceedings were absolutely in accordance with prevalent Sri Lankan laws.”
The ICJ, he said, “will extend full support to the newly appointed Chief Justice of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan Government in this regard. We may point out that we require strong judiciary, strong executive and strong legislature throughout the world who are willing to contribute a lot to preserve the rule of law.”