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Central & South Asia

Sri Lanka's chief justice is impeached

Chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake has been accused of abusing her position and possessing unexplained wealth.
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2013 06:00
The intention to oust Chief justice Bandaranayake is viewed by critics as President Rajapaksa's last obstacles to absolute power.[Al Jazeera]

Sri Lanka's chief justice has been impeached after Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour.

The case is widely seen by jurists and rights activists as an attempt by the government to ensure a servile judiciary.

Parliaments intention to impeach was announced on Friday and is now passed on to President Mahinda Rajapaksa who will ultimately decide whether Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake should be dismissed.

In December a parliamentary committee had ruled that Bandaranayake had unexplained wealth and had misused her power.

Bandaranayake denied the charges and said she had not been given a fair hearing.

Sri Lanka's Supreme Court ruled that the committee had no legal power to investigate the allegations. Following which an appeals court also annulled the guilty verdict and forbade any further action by Parliament.

Parliament's defiance of the court rulings was viewed by lawyers and activists as a breach of the constitution that could threaten to plunge the courts into crisis.

Critics of the president Rajapaksa, who has been riding a wave of popular support by ending the 25-year civil war in 2009, say he wants to remove the last obstacles to absolute power.

He has pushed through laws ending term limits for the presidency and abolished independent commissions that select top judiciary, police and public service personnel. He now has the authority to appoint many of the country's officials.

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