The appointment of an expert panel to evaluate the findings in the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) which probed Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake would not clash with the on-going parliamentary process, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told newspaper editors yesterday at Temple Trees.
He said though there was no constitutional requirement to assess the PSC findings, he had thought it fit to do so. That was not something new, he said, noting that he did so as regards other crucial issues as well. Claiming that he had not seen the report, he said he was waiting for a copy from Parliament.
President Rajapaksa said all countries had constitutional mechanisms in place to impeach errant judges and recently the Chief Justice of the Philippines had been removed for offences which included the non-declaration of assets. Asked to comment on the Chief Justice’s claim that the proper process had not been followed in probing charges against her, the President said Parliament had adopted the methods that had been employed previously in dealing with other Chief Justices. When it was pointed out that the CJ and her lawyers wanted the government to adopt the process proposed in the Draft Constitution of 2000, the President said it was not practicable to change the Constitution to impeach judges. He asked whether a person summoned before a court of law could demand that the Constitution be amended for him to be tried. The existing constitutional provisions had been followed in removing judges and in trying to impeach Chief Justices Neville Samarakoon and Sarath N. Silva.
The call for impeaching Chief Justice Bandaranayake had first come from the Opposition, President Rajapaksa said, recalling that it was UNP MPs Tissa Attanayake Harsha de Silva, Dayasiri Jayasekera and DNA MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake who had called for her removal. The UNP was now protesting against what it wanted the government to do, he added.
Asked how he would respond to the UNP’s call for a committee of Commonwealth judges to probe charges against CJ Bandaranayake, the President said the UNP should have done so when it tried CJ Samarakoon and sough to impeach CJ. Silva. He laughing said MP Sajith Premadasa should read how his late father Ranasinghe Premadasa as the Prime Minister of the J. R. Jayewardene government had defended the PSC that tried CJ Samarakoon. He said he could make the relevant sections of the Hansard available to Sajith. “It is a pity that the son does not know what his father did,” said the President.COURTESY:THE ISLAND