CJ Impeachment : PEOPLE’S POWER THROUGH PARLIAMENT
Posted on January 1st, 2013
Dharma Sri ABEYRATNE-Courtesy The Daily News
* PSC has to abide by Standing Orders PSC has to abide by Standing Orders
* CJ treated with due respect
Parliament has exercised the people’s power vested in it by the Constitution in entertaining the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice , Minister Dilan Perera said. He was addressing a media conference organised by the People’s Movement for Justice in Colombo yesterday. He said impeachment is the only means of acting against misconduct of a Chief Justice. That power is vested in Parliament under Section 107 of the Constitution.
Responding to a journalist Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi said that the impeachment was taken up by Parliament no sooner Parliament was made aware that the Chief Justice was liable for various acts of misconduct that were not in keeping with the high office she held at the apex of the judiciary. Minister Perera refuted allegations by various segments including the Opposition that the CJ was not given enough time to prepare her defence before the Parliamentary Select Committee. The Minister mentioned that the time frame has been clearly mentioned in the Standing Orders and they as members cannot violate these guidelines.
The Standing Orders related to the impeachment was drafted during and UNP government under the direction of then Prime Minister R Premadasa. In terms of the Standing Orders the PSC is given only one month to inquire into the allegations contained in an impeachment.
In accordance with the constitution and the Standing Orders an impeachment has to be inquired into within a given time frame and can not be dragged on. However, the CJ was given 22 days out of 30 days to respond to the charges before the PSC. The CJ although maintaing there was insuffuicient time made representations twice before walk out of the proceedings . On the first occasion she addressed media through her lawyers before she faced the PSC. But she requested more time to answer the charges. Minister Perera observed 22 days ,was a reasonable time for the CJ to respond. He said no one who signed the impeachment motion was a member of the PSC . He flatly rejected allegations of the opposition that the persons who tabled the impeachment were inquiring into the charges .
As a member of the PSC, he would catagorically state that no member acted in any way disrespectful of the CJ.” All the time everyone acted in a respectful manner considering the High office she held”. The Minister further added that the CJ was treated as a VVIP when she arrived in Parliament. She entered Parliament through an entrance reserved only for VVIPs such as the President, foreign leaders etc. Minister Wanniarchchi said the impeachment procedure was conducted and carried out 100 percent constitutionally. The Government is duty bound to protect and safeguard the constitutional rights of the legislature.