PSC report valid despite Oppn members walking out – law experts -CJ can resign before impeachment debate – Deputy Speaker
Posted on December 10th, 2012

Chamikara WEERASINGHE Courtesy The Daily News

The report on the findings of the impeachment charges against Chief Justice Dr Shirani Bandaranayake cannot be debated until January 8, 2013 in keeping with article 78 A of the Standings Orders of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, law experts said.

These experts pointed out in accordance with Standing Order 78 A, “…..where notice of a resolution for the presentation of an address to the President for the removal of a Judge from office is given to the Speaker in accordance with Article 107 of the Constitution, the Speaker shall entertain such resolution and place it on the Order Paper of Parliament but such resolution shall not be proceeded with until after the expiration of a period of one month from the date on which the Select Committee appointed under paragraph (2) of this Order has reported to Parliament.”

The Parliamentary Select Committee submitted the report on the impeachment trial of the Chief Justice on December 8, 2012.

“It takes one month from the date the report has been submitted to Parliament before it can be be taken up for debate,” they said.

Asked about the legitimacy of the impeachment process under the circumstances where some members of the PSC had walked out of the Committee, they said the procedure of hearing of the impeachment charges against the Chief Justice has conformed to due process and there was no violation of the rule of law despite the withdrawal by four Opposition members from the PSC.

Asked if this could raise any legal issue concerning the report submitted by the PSC to Parliament, they said, , ” there is zero impact on the PSC’s legitimacy or its report ..”

“The withdrawal of Opposition members cannot invalidate the PSC report because the report has been prepared by seven PSC Members, which means more than half the members of the PSC that forms the quorum has prepared it,” they said.

The PSC had reported its findings to Parliament in keeping with the subsection (6) of Standing Order 78 A, within one month from the commencement of the sittings of the PSC to probe the charges against the Chief Justice, they added. Meanwhile, several academics, asked for their views on the PSC process and the views expressed by certain NGOs that have opposed the impeachment motion, said: “These NGOs are on an agenda to destabilize the country by causing a major unrest over this issue.

Colombo University Sociology Department Senior Lecturer Jagath Wellawatta asked if these NGOs have ever sought to disprove those charges leveled against the Chief Justice said they (NGOs ) have no consideration whatsoever to the seriousness of the charges leveled against the Chief Justice regarding allegations of misbehavior or incapacity.

CJ can resign before impeachment debate – Deputy Speaker

There will be no developments in connection with the report prepared by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to investigate into the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Dr Shirani Bandaranaike until January 8, 2013, Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody said.

He said the Chief Justice is free to resign if she wishes, before this date or resort to any other action.

Weerakkody said Parliament can decide how long the report of the PSC will be debated. He said according to Standing Orders and the provisions of the constitution, after the report is submitted to the Speaker, it will be kept for a cooling off period of one month before it is debated in Parliament.

The Deputy Speaker said work of the PSC, which is only an investigative body, has been completed now. He said at the end of the debate, if Parliament resolved that the report is genuine, with a special majority of the members and resolved that the Chief Justice should be impeached, the resolution would be sent to the President.

“However, if it is not passed with a special majority, the Chief Justice would continue to remain in the post,” Deputy Speaker Weerakkody said.

He said if the President decides to impeach the Chief Justice as recommended by Parliament, he would have to address Parliament before doing so.

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